The Memmingen district court on Thursday fined the 46-year-old unemployed woman and 40-year-old metal-worker €900 and €1,800, respectively, for the nude photo shoot they held in the Ottobeuren Basilica in December 2009.
The incident occurred after the defendants, who had met in an internet sex-forum, moved a photo shoot from the woods to the nearby baroque basilica of the Ottobeuren Abbey because the weather was “too cold” for the scantily-clad pair, local daily Allgäu Rundschau reported.
“The basilica was empty at the time. We didn’t have the impression we were disturbing anyone,” said the male defendant, an amateur photographer who took 37 photos of the nude woman in what the court termed “suggestive poses.”
The pair later posted the photos under their profiles on the internet forum where they met.
Police began investigating them after receiving an anonymous letter from a “faithful Catholic” who “happened upon” the online photos and took offence at their setting in a church, the paper reported.
“We didn’t consider the consequences of our actions,” said the female defendant. “The photos were meant for private use.”
The defendants tried justifying the photos before the court, arguing that nudity is “nothing foreign” to the Church and comparing their deed to Michelangelo painting nude frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
“But Michelangelo certainly had another purpose,” the state prosecutor countered.
The Italian renaissance master also “did not present the pictures to some five million members of an erotic community on the internet,” he added.
The judge on the case said it was “beside the point” that the church was empty when the photos were taken.
“The law protects the religious faith of its citizens; actions such as these are impermissible in a church,” she said.
The sentence, however, is not yet final and the defendants maintain their innocence.