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Last Updated on May 19, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 269

Characters Discussed

Piero Maironi

Piero Maironi (pee-EH-roh mah-ee-ROH-nee), who previously left his wife in an insane asylum to take Jeanne Dessalle as his mistress. Later, at the time of his wife’s death, three years before the time of this story, he had a prophetic vision and renounced the world. He left Dessalle to pursue a holy life and is now called Benedetto the Saint for his many good works. He speaks out against the corruption of the church, even traveling to Rome to speak with the pope.

Jeanne Dessalle

Jeanne Dessalle (dehs-SAHL-leh), who hopes that Piero will renounce his holy life and come back to her now that her husband has died. She travels across Italy trying to find him and persuade him to come back to her before he takes his final vows as a monk. She finds him and manages to speak to him alone, and she tells him honestly that she still does not believe in God. Her conversion comes just in time to give him delight in his dying moments.

Noemi d’Arxel

Noemi d’Arxel (noh-EH-mee d’ahr-ZHEHL), her friend, who scours Italy with her in search of Piero.

Giovanni Selva

Giovanni Selva (jee-oh-VAHN-nee), Noemi’s saintly brother-in-law, a philosopher whose writings Benedetto keeps off the Catholic Church’s Index of forbidden books.

Don Clemente

Don Clemente, a Benedictine monk who is the instructor of Benedetto at the monastery of Santa Scholastica.

The pope

The pope, who summons Benedetto to discuss ideas about the needs of the church. He begs Benedetto to be patient in waiting for correction of the church’s problems.

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