Two former Catholic nuns have been married in Italy after the country passed a new civil union bill legalising same-sex unions. Federica and Isabel, both 44, fell in love during a mission and have been together for three years. A wedding service in the northern town of Pinerolo was officiated by its mayor, Luca Salvai. Federica, who is Italian, and Isabel, from South America, met during a pilgrimage and belonged to the Franciscan order, which follows the disciplines of Saint Francis of Assisi - Pope Francis' namesake.
The former nuns - whose surnames were not revealed because they requested anonymity - had to renounce their vows to make it possible for them to get married. The ceremony was originally scheduled to take place on Thursday but was held on Wednesday to protect the couple's privacy amid media interest in their love story.
Federica told Italian newspaper La Stampa : "God wants people to be happy. We call upon our church to welcome all people who love each other."
The pair will receive a religious blessing from ex-priest Franco Barbero, who was suspended from the Catholic Church in 2003 over criticism of its doctrine and his support of gay marriage, The Local reported.
Barbero said Federica and Isabel's story was "like all the love stories in the world".
He added: "They got to know each other slowly and discovered they had deep feelings. They are two marvellous people, with very deep faith. They reflected for a long time and took the decision courageously, knowing it wouldn't be accepted."
Barbero said this is not the first time he has blessed two former nuns at a civil union.
Despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church, Italy was the last country in Western Europe to legalise same-sex civil unions, Mirror.co.uk reports.