21 April 2016
The refugees who arrived in the Vatican: 'I would like to thank the Pope...he has saved us'
Pope Francis’ visit to Lesbos last week was not only a bold humanitarian gesture – it may prove to have been a significant moment in Catholic-Orthodox relations
With her husband Hasan and their two-year-old son, Riad, Nour had a normal middle-class life living in the suburbs of Damascus. She is a microbiologist who worked for Syria’s Atomic Energy Commission; he is a garden designer who was employed by the city’s local authority.
They lost everything when their house was destroyed by bombs during their country’s protracted civil war – and when Hasan refused his call-up for military service, they took the decision to leave home in search of a better life in Europe.
Last Saturday, that hope became a reality thanks to Pope Francis, who returned from his short visit to the Greek island of Lesbos with 12 Syrian refugees, all Muslims: among them, Nour, Hasan and Riad.
“We can’t believe what has happened to us. It is incredible – I can’t find the words,” Nour told The Tablet on Monday at a language school run by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome, where she has enrolled in an Italian-language course.
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