Pope Francis greeted a Colombian nun on Sunday, shortly after she was freed four years after being kidnapped by Islamists in Mali.
The pope blessed Sr. Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti before a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica launching a worldwide synodal process.
Sr. Gloria, a member of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, was kidnapped in southern Mali in 2017.
The Malian presidency announced that she was released on Oct. 9 after “four years and eight months of combined efforts of several intelligence services.”
It posted photographs on social media of her meeting with interim president Col. Assimi Goïta, accompanied by Cardinal Jean Zerbo of Bamako.
“We prayed a lot for her release. I thank the Malian authorities and other good people who made this release possible,” the cardinal told AFP.
Libération ce jour 09 Octobre de la sœur religieuse Colombienne Gloria NARVAEZ. Elle avait été enlevée le 7 février 2017 à Karangasso, dans le cercle de Koutiala à la frontière entre le Mali et le Burkina Faso. La Présidence du Mali salue le courage et la bravoure de la sœur. pic.twitter.com/xIDiIhzjMR
In the 11-line message sent to her brother Edgar Narváez Argoti via the Red Cross, she wrote: “I send everyone my warmest greetings. May the good Lord bless you and grant you health. I have been a prisoner for four years and now I am with a new group.”
In her message, she asked: “May they all pray a great deal for me. May God bless them all. I am hopeful that God will help me to regain my freedom.”
Mali is currently under the leadership of Goïta, who led two coups in a span of nine months, first ousting the country’s democratically elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in August 2020 and, in May this year, the interim leaders who were to head the country’s transitional government.
Following the May 24 coup, Mali’s constitutional court named Goïta as transitional president of Mali until the country holds elections.
The move attracted criticism, with Catholic leaders in the country calling it a “seizure of power outside the legal process.”
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Mali is struggling with an Islamist insurgency that began in the north in 2012 and has spread to Burkina Faso and Niger, with a rise in kidnappings.
Agenzia Fides reported in September 2020 that Sr. Gloria’s mother died at the age of 87 while awaiting her daughter’s release.
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An initiative that works to highlight persecution of Christians released Friday a video seeking prayers for Sister Gloria Cecilia Nárvaez Argoti, a missionary who was abducted in Mali in February 2017.