Sudanese Meriam Ibrahim who refused to renounce faith meets Pope Francis

(Photo: REUTERS / Remo Casilli)
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Meriam Yahya Ibrahim of Sudan (R) holds one of her children next to Lapo Pistelli (L), Italy's vice minister for foreign affairs, holding her other child, as they land at Ciampino airport in Rome July 24, 2014. The Sudanese woman who was spared a death sentence for converting from Islam to Christianity and then barred from leaving Sudan flew into Rome on Thursday.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death because she refused to renounce her Christian faith met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday.

Ibrahim was accompanied by her husband Daniel Wani and their two children, the Vatican News service said.

Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, Lapo Pistelli, who helped negotiate and arrange her departure from Sudan and travelled with her to Italy, accompanied the family to the Vatican.

Meriam and her family will settle in the United States.

(Photo: Holy See)Meriam Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her faith for Islam, with her recently-born baby, meets Pope Francis at the Vatican on July 24, 2014.

 The meeting was a day of celebration for the family and the international community who rallied for her release.

Ibrahim was sentenced to death on May 15, 2014 after being found guilty of apostasy by a Sudanese court.

She remained steadfast in her faith despite the threat on her life and rejected the offer of freedom if she would convert to Islam.

"I am a Christian, and I will remain a Christian," she said at the time of her court hearing.

The case caught international attention and the outcry was followed by her being granted her freedom.

After her release, Merima and her husband Daniel, along with their children were about to board a plane to Washington when authorities accused Ibrahim of travelling with falsified documents.

The family was in a police station for two days before being released into the custody of the U.S. embassy and later being allowed to leave Sudan.

The Pope joined in the family's joy as he welcomed them in his private residence in Domus Santa Marta in Vatican City.

The head of the Vatican Press Office, Jesuit priest Father Federico Lombardi, said the meeting took place in a "very serene and affectionate" environment.

In the meeting, the Pope thanked Ibrahim for her "courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith."

He also prayed with the children, 18-month old son Martin, and daughter Maya who was born in prison two months ago.

Lombardi said the Pope's gesture was to express his concern and prayers for all those who suffer for their faith. This is especially true for Christians who suffer different types of persecutions.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said that Ibrahim will remain in Italy for a while before heading to the United States.

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