Sisters must take marriage vows twice in the eight years it can take to become a nun. They are conducted in a ceremony the sisters consider their wedding day. Families are invited, and priests preside over the ceremony. The brides walk down the aisle in a single procession, their habits acting as wedding dresses. The groom, Jesus, is present only in spirit.
Watch the ceremony
After three years, sisters who wear white veils commit to Jesus for the first time. They emerge from the ceremony wearing black veils.
After a nun has worn a black veil for five years, she takes her vows for the last time. These sisters lie facedown at the altar, symbolizing the death of their old lives and commitment to serving Jesus Christ as their husband. "When you're down on the ground, that's the most vulnerable position you can possibly be at," Sister Maria says. "You're acknowledging the fact that what you're doing is you're taking a great risk, but you're taking a great risk because you love. And that is the biggest risk—to love."
Sister Maria Catherine, who has just received her black veil, says Jesus is the perfect husband. "His love is not a utilitarian love. We're used to seeing love as something that you get from someone. And his love is a self-sacrificing love. His love for you is like no love that's on this earth. And that's what makes it perfect."
Drop in on the sisters' wedding reception