A group of men of differing circumstances and personalities gather at a monastery to undergo a course of spiritual reappraisal. They comprise of a candle-maker, a politician, an ex-prisoner, a novelist and a petty thief trying to elude the police. All have their own spiritual problems to solve, except the thief. The politician, a former partisan leader, suffers the remorse of causing the deaths of three innocent men on a sabotage mission; he is set for the priesthood. The prisoner, a sick and possibly dying man, lacks the courage to visit his wife who is now happily remarried; his padre has advised him to leave her alone. The novelist bears the moral responsibility for offences committed by young people led astray by his writings; he earns a lot for his work, but is too demoralized to continue. Then the candle-maker - miserly, smooth-talking and bigoted - is unlikely to receive any benefit from his retreat to the monastery. Interwoven with the stories of these men is the drama of a priest who, overwhelmed by doubt, still finds the inner force to go forward. In the end the thief repents and leaves the monastery after making an offering to the Madonna of his stolen goods.