ESPINOSA DE HENARES, Spain (AP) _ Five nuns who initially refused to follow a bishop's order to vacate their convent finally left the century-old religious house on Tuesday, news reports said.

The nuns of the Franciscan order of the Clarisas had been told to leave the convent, located in this farming town in central Spain, after Bishop Jose Sanchez ordered it closed last month.

They agreed only after the order's top officials told the nuns' lawyer that the decree had been imposed by the Vatican, not the bishop, the state news agency EFE said.

When the bishop, one of Spain's most senior Roman Catholic clerics, personally tried to evict the nuns last month, hundreds of Espinosa's residents turned out to protest.

Three nuns will live in another convent of the Clarisas in the southern town of Sanlucar de Barrameda, while the two eldest nuns will live in a nearby convent.