Indian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil met with Pope Francis on Wednesday, September 13. Father Uzhunnalil was kidnapped by Islamic State in Yemen on March 4, 2016. He was released from the captivity just a day before.
Father Tom Uzhunnalil ‘s release was officially announced by the Indian government on Tuesday, September 12. After his release, Father Uzhunnalil arrived in Rome on Tuesday evening September 12. 18 months earlier, he was abducted by Islamic State militants during an attack on the missionary compound.
The militants were posing as relatives of one of the residents of the compound. The militants killed sixteen people including four Indian nuns belonging to the Missionaries of Charity, the order of founded by Mother Teresa.
A day after arriving in Rome, he met with the Pontiff in the Casa Santa Marta, his meeting was immediately followed by the general audience. During this meeting, the Archbishop of Bombay Cardinal Oswald Gracias also accompanied Father Uzhunnalil.
Soon after Father Uzhunnalil’s release, Vatican released an official statement saying: “The Holy See fervently thanks all those who worked for his release, and especially His Majesty the Sultan of Oman and the competent authorities of the Sultanate.”
Talking to a newspaper, Father Uzhunnalil said that during his captivity, he prayed in his heart every day. He said that although he was not able to celebrate Mass. He told the newspaper that he prayed for the four nuns killed during the attack.
The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, divulged that Father Uzhunnalil kissed both hands of Pope Francis. It was also revealed that he kissed the ground at the Pontiff’s feet. The pontiff hugged him, as he told him that he was praying for him since day one of his captivity.