THREE nuns from India have been released from a convent in Santiago de Compostela, in the north-western region of Galicia after having been kidnapped and held there for over a decade.
One of the three managed to escape from the Madres Mercedarias convent in the cathedral city and told the police.
She said they were kept there against their will after arriving there as teenagers, suffering threats and blackmail.
They are now aged in their 30s.
The other two Indian nuns backed the escapee's story.
According to their version of events, they were threatened with being deported for being illegal immigrants – despite the fact they all had valid residence permits.,
The nuns were also warned of the shame they would bring on their families if they were forced to return.
A statement from the woman who reported the kidnap said: “When had been in the convent for 13 years I could no longer stand it and verbally expressed my desire to renege on my eclesiastical vows, but the Mother Superior – named María Luisa – told me I would never leave there for as long as she was alive and that if I attempted to renege on my vows, she would put me on a plane and cancel my residence card so that I could no longer remain in Spain.”
Whilst inquiries are ongoing, the three nuns have been given accommodation in a 'safe house' in the same way as domestic violence victims are.
The Madres Mercedarias order opened up to nuns from México and India 13 years ago, mainly due to the lack of nuns available in Spain.
This order has five convents in the country.