VATICAN CITY SEPTEMBER 15, 2017(CISA) – Pope Francis on September 13 met Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, a day after his release from captivity.
According to the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, the Pope welcomed Fr Uzhunnalil, an Indian Salesian priest, at his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Arriving before Pope Francis, the Salesian knelt before him and kissed his feet.
Visibly moved by the gesture, the Pope helped him up and kissed his hands, the Vatican newspaper said.
Before blessing Fr Uzhunnalil, the Pope embraced him and said he would continue to pray for him as he had done during his imprisonment.
Father Uzhunnalil was kidnapped March 4, 2016, from a home for the aged and disabled run by the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, Yemen.
Four Missionaries of Charity and 12 others were murdered in the attack.
According to Oman’s state-run news agency ONA, Father Uzhunnalil was “rescued” on September 12 by Omani authorities “in coordination with the Yemeni parties.”
Fr Uzhunnalil thanked the Pope, telling him that “he prayed every day for him, offering his suffering for his mission and the good of the church.”
Recalling his time in captivity, the Salesian told the Pope that although he was unable to celebrate Mass, “every day, I would repeat to myself, in my heart, all the words of the celebration.”
He said that he continues to pray for all those who have been spiritually close to him, particularly for the four nuns and 12 people murdered when he was abducted.
Also present at the meeting was Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, who told L’Osservatore Romano that “after this terrible experience, the essential message Fr Tom wants to convey is that ‘Jesus is great and he loves us.’”