Mariam Yehya Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who was previously sentenced to death over her refusal to recant her faith, safely exited the North African country and arrived in Italy Thursday before meeting privately with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Ibrahim, 27, arrived in a government aircraft at Rome’s Ciampino International Airport along with her husband, Daniel Wani, an American citizen, and the couple’s two young children, Martin and Maya, according to the Telegraph.
The Vatican described the meeting between Ibrahim, her family and the pontiff as “very affectionate,” noting that Pope Francis “thanked her for her faith and courage.” She also reportedly “thanked him for his prayer and solidarity,” according to the Associated Press.
Ibrahim’s exit from Sudan comes after months of international furor over her detention and death sentence for simply exercising and standing by her Christian faith.
Lapo Pistelli, Italy’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, accompanied the family from Sudan to Italy after picking them up at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, where they were staying for the past month. The U.S. State Department had been looking for a way to safely move the family out of Sudan.
Ibraham, Wani and her children will travel to the United States in the coming days, where her husband has said that he hopes to build a new life with his family, the Telegraph reported.
“Today we are happy, this is a day of celebration,” Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said of the development. “This gesture by Sudan is testimony to the friendship between our country and Italy’s choice to be a protagonist in this event.”
Pistelli said that Ibrahim and her two children are in good health, though previous reports about her infant daughter, whom she delivered while shackled in prison, have indicated that the child could end up with long-term health problems as a result of the circumstances of the birth.
As TheBlaze previously reported, Ibrahim was first arrested and charged with adultery in August 2013 and was later also charged with apostasy in February 2014 after she said she was a Christian and not a Muslim, according to the BBC.
She has claimed that she became a Christian after her father, a Muslim, abandoned her family. Ibrahim’s Ethiopian mother, a Christian, then raised her and she adopted her mother’s faith.
Shariah law in Sudan requires that children follow their father’s faith, which led to the initial charges against her.
Originally, Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery, since her marriage to a Christian is not permitted under the law, according to the New York Daily News.
After being released on these charges, she was detained again along with her husband and children at an airport last month in Sudan and accused of falsifying travel documents.
After being released, Ibrahim and her family sought shelter in the U.S. Embassy and had been living there for the past month before their release to Italian authorities.