Two former nuns were joined in a civil union in Italy on Wednesday in a ceremony coming only four months after the heavily Catholic country approved same-sex partnerships. Identified only as Isabel and Federica, they met three years ago doing charitable work with drug addicts and gradually fell in love, reports the Guardian. Already "wed" to the church, there was only one option: the Franciscan nuns renounced their vocation so they could be together. Since then, they have spoken out against the church's anti-gay stance. "God wants people happy, to live the love in the light of the sun,” Isabel told the newspaper La Stampa, per the Guardian. The pair tied the knot in a civil ceremony at town hall in Pinerolo on the edge of the Alps.
After the legal ceremony, the ex-nuns' union was blessed by the Don Franco Barbero, a former priest and longtime supporter of gay marriage who was excommunicated in 2003, reports the Irish Times. Isabel and Federica are " two lovely people, of intense faith and with serious studies behind them," Barbero said. "They prayed a lot about this and ... in the end, they took their decision knowing that not many would approve." The nuns weren't the first to leave the church to be together. Last year, Vatican official Krzysztof Charamsa was defrocked after he left the church, declaring he was gay and wanted to be with the man he loved, per the Guardian. (Pope Francis has urged followers to ease up on anti-gay sentiment.)