.- Just one day after being released from 18 months of captivity, Indian priest Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil shared an emotional meeting with Pope Francis, saying that throughout his time as a prisoner, he offered his suffering for the Pope and the Church.
According to a Sept. 13 article published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the encounter took place at the Pope’s residence in the Vatican’s St Martha guesthouse immediately after the general audience on Wednesday.
Photos of the encounter show an emotional scene as Fr. Uzhunnalil bends down to kiss the Pope’s feet, after which the Pope tenderly gives the priest his blessing.
While Fr. Uzhunnalil appeared with an overgrown beard in the majority of photos published during his time in captivity, today’s pictures show him clean-shaven and dressed in clerics.
According to L’Osservatore Romano, Fr. Uzhunnalil thanked the Pope, saying “(I) prayed for you every day, offering my suffering for your mission and for the good of the Church.” These words, the newspaper reports, moved the Pope to tears.
A Salesian missionary, Fr. Uzhunnalil first garnered the world’s attention when he was kidnapped March 4, 2016, during an attack on a Missionaries of Charity home in Aden, Yemen, that left 16 people dead, including four Sisters.
His international profile grew when rumors spread that he was to be crucified on Good Friday, which were later discredited. After that, numerous photos and videos were released depicting Fr. Uzhunnalil, thin and with an overgrown beard, pleading for help and for his release, saying that his health was deteriorating and he was in need of hospitalization.
Read more at Catholic News Agency.