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.