A Colombian nun who spent more than four years in captivity by Islamists in Mali, Africa was finally freed on Saturday.
Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez was taken hostage in February of 2017 while serving as a missionary in Koutiala with three other nuns, according to news outlet France 24.
In a statement shared on Twitter, Mali's president commended the nun for her "courage and bravery" and that her freedom comes after the "combined effort of several intelligence services."
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
— Presidence Mali (@PresidenceMali) October 9, 2021
Sister Gloria, 59, said she was grateful to Malian authorities "for all the efforts you've made to liberate me. I am very happy, I stayed healthy for five years, thank God."
Efforts are reportedly underway to secure the release of the remaining nuns who are being held there.
The Archbishop of Bamako, Jean Zerbo, thanked "Malian authorities and other good people" who made Sister Gloria's release possible.
Her brother, Edgar Narvaez said he was overcome with emotion following news of her release. "She is in good health, thank God. They sent me pictures and she looks well," he told Agence France-Presse.
Narvaez received a letter from her in March, indicating that she was still alive. He told AFP earlier this year that the note was unique to his sister and had been written in block capitals "because she always used capital letters."
Shortly after she was freed, Pope Francis blessed Sister Gloria on Sunday before a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
Mali has struggled to control a jihadist insurgency that first appeared north of the country in 2012, then quickly spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Christians are a minority in the country. Islamic extremists have ruled the northern part of Mali, banning the practice of other religions and desecrating and looting churches and other places of worship, according to World Watch Monitor.
Last year, CBN News reported a Swiss evangelical missionary named Beatrice Stockli was executed by Islamic extremists in Mali after four years in captivity.
Mali is number 28 on the Open Doors USA's World Watch List of countries where it's most dangerous to be a Christian.
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