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Pope Francis Meets Meriam Ibrahim, Sudanese Christian Woman Formerly Sentenced To Death

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POPE MERIAM IBRAHIM
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, from Sudan, with her daughter Maya in her arms, in his Santa Marta residence, at the Vatican, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, File) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

ROME (AP) - Pope Francis has met privately with a Sudanese woman who arrived in Italy after escaping a death sentence in Sudan for refusing to recant her Christian faith.

The Vatican said Pope Francis had "a very affectionate" meeting with Meriam Ibrahim, 27, her husband and their two small children. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the pope "thanked her for her faith and courage, and she thanked him for his prayer and solidarity" during the half-hour meeting Thursday.

Francis frequently calls attention to the plight of those persecuted for their religious beliefs.

Ibrahim arrived earlier in Rome, greeted by Italy's premier, en route to the United States, where her husband has citizenship. Italy along with the United States worked for her release.

  • In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis, left, meets in his Santa Marta residence, Meriam Ibrahim, from Sudan, center, accompanied by her children Maya in her arms, Martin, and her husband, Daniel Wani, right, at the Vatican, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
  • In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, from Sudan, with her daughter Maya in her arms, in his Santa Marta residence, at the Vatican, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
  • In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, from Sudan, with her daughter Maya in her arms, in his Santa Marta residence, at the Vatican, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, File)
  • STR via Getty Images
    Sudanese Christian Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag (R) is assisted by Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli (L) as she arrives with her children Maya and Martin, at the Ciampino airport in Rome on July 24, 2014. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

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