In fact, monks and nuns remain single their entire lives. When they enter the monastery, they commit to celibacy – i.e. to renounce relationships with women or men and instead to dedicate their lives entirely to God. Ulrich and Beate Heinen also had that in mind. But things turned out differently.

Ulrich Heinen became a Franciscan monk at the age of 22, Beate decided at 19 to live in the Benedictine convent and took the name Sister Felicitas. After eleven years, however, she resigned and turned to art. Ulrich, on the other hand, lived in the monastery for a total of 42 years. Then he decided to move out – and to marry Beate. The 78-year-old and the 67-year-old have now been legally married for more than three years. Recently they also celebrated the church wedding. The couple have written a book about their story, ‘If nun

“This wedding is very special for Beate and me,” said Ulrich Heinen of the “Bild” newspaper. “We wanted to profess our yes word in front of God and man. What a gift to experience such love!” But it was a long road for the couple to get there.

Ulrich Heinen led his monastery as Superior General. He met his future wife in 2009 when he invited her to a panel discussion. The two hit it off immediately, but it was clear that they couldn’t be together – at least not officially. Nevertheless, they kept in close contact and even had a secret relationship. Until Ulrich Heinen decided in 2019 to come clean and leave the monastery.

“It was difficult getting there,” admitted Beate Heinen on SWR. Ulrich has not regretted his transition from fellow believer to husband. He describes the process as “a small plant that slowly starts to grow and gets bigger and bigger”. He now works as an art therapist at a clinic in Neuwied (Rhineland-Palatinate), both run a studio in the Eifel.

Sources: “Image” / SWR / BR

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