Father Maccalli received by Pope Francis (Vatican Media) Father Maccalli received by Pope Francis (Vatican Media) 

Father Maccalli: peace and liberation for hostages in Sahel

In a message for the upcoming Christmas celebrations, Father Pier Luigi Maccalli, who experienced captivity for more than two years and was released in 2020, prays for the people still detained in the African region.

By Edoardo Giribaldi

“At Christmas, families usually gather and celebrate together around a set table, but in some, there will be an empty place in their hearts.” In his message for the imminent festivities, Father Pier Luigi Maccalli expressed his concern for the people kept hostages in Sahel.

Communion of heart

Father Maccalli himself was kidnapped and imprisoned in the North Africa region from September 17, 2018, to October 8, 2020. "The strong communion of heart with all the innocent victims is certainly one of the gifts that the desert of captivity has left me," wrote the Society for African Missions priest.

On the occasion of the forthcoming Christmas celebrations, Father Maccalli's thoughts "are with the ten hostages in the Sahel, who will spend another holiday away from home."

“I cannot help but feel solidarity with the families of all the hostages of the Sahel, and this year my prayer before the crib is for them: may there be peace and liberation for them and for the Sahel.”


Speaking to Vatican News on August 8, 2021, Father Maccalli recalled some of the biggest challenges he experienced while in captivity. One out of many, loneliness.

“The thing that hurt the most was the feeling of being forgotten by everyone. Coming back home made me discover that there were a lot of people who, nevertheless, prayed and hoped for this deliverance.”

A river of prayer

Prayer is, according to Father Maccalli, “a valuable aid for people of faith. It is crucial to make hostages feel they have not been forgotten even when they come back. When I was freed, I saw the ‘river of prayer’ that accompanied my two years of captivity.”

Father Maccalli stressed the importance for hostages to receive “a signal, a photograph. A sign that says, 'the family, the world will not forget you'. This is a great help for those who experience loneliness.”

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23 December 2022, 11:35