Besides prayer and charity, nuns at a Spanish convent run a side business selling candied almonds. A Spanish city's decision to tax those operations has called Spain's relationship to the Church into question.
Off a cobblestone street in the historic city of Alcalá de Henares, the birthplace of Cervantes, roughly 30 kilometers from Madrid, a 400-year-old convent, El Convento de Clarisas de San Diego, awaits its next customer.
When the doorbell rings, a nun cries out, "Holy Mary, the immaculate!"
"Good afternoon!" a customer says. "May I have four boxes of roasted almonds, please?"
Since a nun's vow of chastity means she can't be seen in public, the four delicately-wrapped almond tins are pushed through a rotating wooden turnstile. "That will be 19 euros ($25)," the nun says, and the transaction is completed.
Profits from the nuns' almond enterprise are likely minimal. But that's beside the point, says a group of lawmakers in Alcalá. A part of the convent is being used by nuns for commercial purposes, the city council believes, and for that, the church must pay.