VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Sunday met with Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, a Franciscan nun from Colombia, a day after she was freed by jihadists in Mali after more than four years of captivity, a Vatican spokesman said.
Sister Gloria was taken hostage on February 7, 2017 in southern Mali near the border with Burkina Faso where she had been working as a missionary.
“This morning, before the celebration of the holy mass to open the bishops’ synod, the pope greeted the recently freed Colombian sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez,” Matteo Bruni said in a statement.
Mali’s presidency had announced Sister Gloria’s release on Saturday, with a statement on the presidential Twitter account paying tribute to her “courage and bravery” along with photos of the nun taken after her release.
“I thank the Malian authorities, the president, all the Malian authorities, for all the efforts you’ve made to liberate me, may God bless you, may God bless Mali,” Sister Gloria said in images broadcast on state television showing her with Mali’s interim president Colonel Assimi Goita and the archbishop of Bamako Jean Zerbo.
“I am very happy, I stayed healthy for five years, thank God,” the nun said, smiling and wearing a yellow robe.
Her liberation had been the fruit of “four years and eight months of the combined effort of several intelligence services”, the presidency said.
In the official statement, Goita assured that “efforts are under way” to secure the release of all those still being held in Mali.
Archbishop Zerbo said Sister Gloria was “doing well”.
“We prayed a lot for her release. I thank the Malian authorities and other good people who made this release possible,” the archbishop said.
The nun boarded a plane to Rome on Saturday evening.
Saved younger nuns
Sister Gloria, 59, was kidnapped near Koutiala, 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of Bamako. She had worked as a missionary for six years in the parish of Karangasso with three other nuns.
According to one of her colleagues, Sister Carmen Isabel Valencia, she offered herself in place of two younger nuns the kidnappers were prep
aring to take.