Last week, before his Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis received in the hall of the Paul VI Hall, three Afghan Christian families. Through tears, they recounted their story to the Holy Father about how they hid their faith for years. 

One teenager had sent the pontiff his shirt days before. It’s the shirt the young man wore while fleeing from Afghanistan and that a journalist from Rome Reports gave to Pope Francis during the papal flight. Now the family had the opportunity to personally meet the Holy Father. It’s an experience to start their new life.

A mother of four wished to offer the pope the wedding ring of her husband, who was killed by the Taliban, according to the September 22 edition of L’Osservatore Romano. 

The pontiff accepted it but asked her to keep it as a sign of friendship and hope. Her husband was first fired and then arrested. “And we never saw him again,” said the 57-year-old. “We were locked in the basement for four days and four nights for fear of being arrested.”

The family arrived in Rome on August 21, and were finally able to attend Mass.

The three Christian families who managed to leave Afghanistan totaled 14 people – seven adults and seven children. Their escape was thanks to a network of solidarity coordinated by the writer Ali Ehsani and the Fondazione Meet Human, under the slogan “Afghan brothers.”

Pope Francis has followed the crisis in Afghanistan with great concern. On August 29, three days after suicide bombings at Kabul airport, he called for prayer and fasting from the window of the Apostolic Palace, on the occasion of the midday Angelus.