Vatican City, 25 July 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Holy Father Francis received in audience Ms. Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, the Sudanese Christian woman imprisoned and condemned to death for apostasy, and subsequently freed with the intervention of the international community.
Meriam was accompanied by her husband Daniel Wani and their two small children, Martin (aged one and a half) and Maya, born in prison two months ago. The family was accompanied by the Italian deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lapo Pistelli, who completed negotiations in Sudan yesterday and accompanied Meriam and her family to Italy, where they are preparing to move to the United States.
The meeting lasted for slightly less than half an hour and took place in a serene and affectionate atmosphere. The Pope thanked Meriam and her family for their courageous witness of constancy in faith. Meriam gave thanks for the great comfort and support she received from the prayer of the Pope and many other believers and persons of good will. The Pope’s secretary, Msgr. Yohannis Gaid, acted as interpreter. The Pope then greeted the Italian staff accompanying Meriam and her family in their stay in Italy.
With this gesture, the Pope wished to demonstrate his closeness, attention and prayer for all those who suffer for their faith and, in particular, for Christians who suffer persecution or curtailment of their religious freedom.