Nhora Valentina Munoz, the 10-year-old girl who was kidnapped by a Colombian rebel group last October, said she is now free thanks to the prayers of Pope Benedict XVI.
Munoz told CNA that seeing the Pope “means a lot to me, because Pope Benedict XVI prayed for me when I was kidnapped, and thanks to him I am free.”
The girl was in Rome with her family to participate in a Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12.
After hearing of the girl’s capture, the Pope began offering prayers for her immediate release and “for all those kidnapped in Colombia.”
Munoz said she was “very happy” to represent Colombia at the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday. She was among dozens of young people who each carried the flag of their respective country.
Juan Sebastian Lozada, 25, who was kidnapped for three years by Colombian rebels together with his mother and brother, also attended the Mass. He said the experience was “very exciting” and that “to see first-hand what the Holy Father conveys is always a reason for admiration and pride.”
Lozada’s mother, Gloria Polanco, is a former congresswoman and the widow of the former governor of the province of Huila, Jaime Lozada. She was kidnapped by the Marxist rebel group FARC, along with her husband and two sons on July 26, 2001.
While they were held hostage, Jaime Lozada was assassinated by FARC for not paying the ransom money the rebels demanded for his family.
Sebastian Lozada said their faith sustained them during their captivity. “I think that in the most difficult and darkest moments, when everything seems lost, only the faith and the hand of God can help someone endure,” he said.
He added that his devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe helped him to withstand the suffering. “I am very devoted to Our Lady and to God, to my entire Catholic faith, and this has enabled me to bear everything we have had to suffer in the last few years with greater incentive,” he said.