Recently freed Sudanese woman, Mariam Yehya Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death after renouncing Islam, privately met Pope Francis on RelihThursday, blessing her while she carries her baby who was born weeks ago in prison.
The visit, with Ibrahim, 27, accompanied by her husband and their two children, was described as “very affectionate” by the Vatican.
Ibrahim’s encounter with the Pope happened just hours after landing at Rome’s Ciampino airport, accompanied by an Italian diplomat who helped negotiate her release.
“Today is a day of celebration,” said Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi as he welcomes her at the airport.
According to Vatican spokesman, Reverend Federico Lombardi, the pope “thanked her for her faith and courage.”
Pope Francis often calls the attention of those who are persecuted for their religious belief.
Lombardi added that the presence of “their wonderful small children” added to the affectionate tone of the meeting.
Ibrahim was executed for death over charges of apostasy.
The sentence which was issued in May was condemned by the United States, the United Nations and Amnesty International, among others, and both the United States and Italy — a strong death penalty opponent with long ties to the Horn of Africa region — worked to win her release as stated via ABC news.
Her death sentence was cleared in June by the Sudan’s high court, but was blocked to leave the country with the Sudanese officials saying the travel documents were fake.
Lapo Pistelli, the Italian diplomat who accompanied the family from Sudan, said that Italy was able to control its ties within the region.
“We had the patience to speak to everyone in a friendly way. This paid off in the end,” he stated via Yahoo news.
Meanwhile, Samantha Power, The U.S. representative to the United Nations, said via Reuters Africa that Ibrahim has become “a symbol for all who suffer for their faith around the world.”
Ibrahim’s father is a Muslim while her mother is an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia. She then married a Christian from southern Sudan, Wani, in a church ceremony in 2011.
Carlene Madge Morantte
LNU ABCom Intern