Vatican City, Nov 9, 2020 / 11:00 am
Pope Francis met Monday with an Italian Catholic missionary priest who was freed last month in Mali after he was kidnapped from his parish in Niger in 2018.
Speaking to Vatican News, the 59-year-old priest said that when greeting him, the pope not only shook his hand, but also kissed it. "I was not expecting [the gesture]," Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli said.
The priest, a member of the Society of African Missions, was kidnapped from his isolated parish in southwest Niger, near the border with Burkina Faso, on the night of Sept. 17, 2018.
More than two years later, in the first full week of October, Maccalli and another Italian, Nicola Chiaccio, were two of four hostages liberated in northern Mali by jihadist fighters believed to be linked to al-Qaeda.