Pope Francis has met with the young Sudanese who was imprisoned and sentenced to death for marrying a Christian.
The Holy Father met with Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, at 1 p.m. in Casa Santa Marta at the Vatican, reported the Sismografo. Ibrahim arrived in Rome this morning on an Italian government plane.
Meriam was accompanied by her husband, Daniel Wani, and their two young children, Martin, 18 months old, and Maya, born in prison two months ago.
“The Pope thanked Meriam for her witness of faith,” said the director of the Vatican press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi. He added that she and her family “thanked the Pope for his closeness, prayers, and for the support of the Church.”
According to a communiqué issued by the Holy See, the family was accompanied by Italian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lapo Pistelli, who had gone yesterday to Sudan to finalize her release and to accompany Meriam and her family to Italy, where they are preparing to emigrate to the United States.
Lasting less than half an hour, the meeting was “calm and affectionate”, the statement noted. “The Pope thanked Meriam and her family for their courageous witness of perseverance in the faith.” It added that “Meriam thanked the Pope for the great support and comfort she received from his prayers and from so many others believers of good will.”
The Pope’s personal secretary, Msgr. Yohannis Gaid, served as interpreter for the meeting.
Toward the end of the encounter, the Holy Father greeted members of Italian government who accompanied Meriam and her family on their trip to Italy.
With this gesture, the Pope wanted to show his closeness, concern and prayer for all those who suffer for their faith, especially for Christians who are enduring persecution or restrictions upon their religious freedom. (D.C.L.)