Meriam Ibrahim meets Pope Francis in Rome

AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca

Meriam Ibrahim today met with the Pope in Rome, after flying in to Italy this morning.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told members of the press that Ibrahim and her family were received in Francis' Santa Marta for half an hour, during which the pontiff thanked her for her "witness to faith" and "perseverance".

The meeting was to be "a sign of closeness to all those who suffer due to their faith and practice of their faith. It's a gesture that goes beyond the meeting and becomes a symbol," Lombardi added, according to Italian news agency Ansa.

The Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy in May and later released, arrived in Rome this morning.

An Italian official said Meriam Ibrahim was on a plane accompanied by Italy's vice minister of foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, Reuters reported.

Ibrahim, 27, was released on June 23 after her case was overturned. Within 24 hours, she was then detained at Khartoum airport, allegedly trying to leave the country with falsified documents.

Her husband, Daniel Wani, is a South-Sudanese Christian with US citizenship, and together with their two children they have been staying at the US embassy in Khartoum since June 26.

The European Parliament passed a resolution on July 17 condemning the case, saying her treatment was "degrading and inhumane".

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi mentioned Ibrahim's case in a speech marking Italy's Presidency of the European Union earlier his month.

"If there is no European reaction we cannot feel worthy to call ourselves Europe," Renzi said.

Ibrahim was sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith to follow the Muslim faith of her estranged father.

Her death sentence was suspended as she was pregnant at the time. She gave birth to her daughter in prison, and was shackled during the labour.

Her Muslim family filed a lawsuit last week to have her marriage annulled in a further attempt to prevent her leaving the country.

Meriam Ibrahim with her children, Martin and Maya.CNN video screenshot