Freed French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt (3rd L) and her family is blessed by Pope Benedict in a private audience at his summer residence of Castelgandolfo September 1, 2008. Betancourt, who was rescued by the Colombian military in July after more than six years in the jungle held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), had wanted to thank the Pope for the Vatican's support during her captivity.
The 46-year-old, seized by guerrillas while campaigning for Colombia's presidency, said Benedict became a direct source of hope when, after a typical day of forced marching through the jungle, she heard him speak on the radio."As soon as I switched the radio on, I heard the voice of the pope who was saying my name. You cannot imagine what this can mean to a person in my situation, a prisoner, to understand you have not been forgotten."Pope Benedict made a number of appeals for her release and that of other hostages.
Although a Catholic, Betancourt said she had never read the Bible -- "a dusty old book" -- before her capture, but then had the time to read it "20,000 times" and now considered it a life guide. "There's an instruction manual for happiness and it's called the Bible," she said.