A Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence, which was later overturned, left Europe on Thursday for the United States, where she will make her new home.
Meriam Ibrahim, her husband and their children were due to arrive in Philadelphia on Thursday on a flight from Rome, where last week they met privately with Pope Francis.
The Rev William Devlin, a New York City pastor who has helped the family, said they would be flying onto Manchester, New Hampshire.
Meriam’s husband, Daniel Wani, had previously lived in New Hampshire, where hundreds of southern Sudanese refugees have settled over the years. He had been granted US citizenship when he fled to the United States as a child to escape civil war, but he later returned and was a citizen of South Sudan.
Sudan initially blocked Ms Ibrahim from leaving the country even after its highest court overturned her death sentence in June. At one point, the family took refuge at the US embassy in Khartoum.
Rev Devlin said Ms Ibrahim expressed some sadness when he talked to her Wednesday.
“She is leaving everything she knows behind,” he said.
Ms Ibrahim had been sentenced to death over charges of apostasy.
Her father was Muslim, and her mother was an Orthodox Christian. She married Mr Wani, a Christian from southern Sudan, in 2011.
Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims. By law, children must follow their father’s religion.