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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Marie Gaucher

Marie Gaucher (mah-REE goh-SHAY), who becomes Sister Philomène. Orphaned as a child, she is sent to a convent orphanage. After a period of adjustment, she is led, through her friend Céline, to a state of religious agitation that finally threatens her health. Her aunt is permitted to take her home. After an unhappy time as servant to Henri de Viry, she begins her novitiate to the Sisters of St. Augustine, who send her to work in a hospital. There, she wins the hearts of doctors and sufferers by her compassionate tenderness. She falls in love with Barnier but punishes herself by remaining in the hospital and enduring love’s torments until his death.


Barnier (bahr-NYAY), a young doctor loved by Sister Philomène. Haunted by memories of the dead Romaine, his former mistress, he deliberately exposes himself to disease and dies as Sister Philomène is having prayers for unbelievers said for him.


Céline (say-LEEN), Sister Philomène’s friend at the orphanage, who later becomes Sister Lawrence. She dies of typhoid.

Madame de Viry

Madame de Viry (deh vee-REE), the employer of Sister Philomène’s aunt, with whom the child Marie goes to live after the death of her parents. When she begins to assume equal footing with Henri de Viry, Madame de Viry sends her away to an orphanage.

Henri de Viry

Henri de Viry (an-REE), Madame de Viry’s son.


Romaine (roh-MEHN), Barnier’s former mistress, who had left him for a life of dissipation. Her death leads the grief-stricken Barnier to expose himself to a fatal disease.


Malivoire (mah-lee-VWAHR), a doctor and a friend of Barnier.


Marguerite (mahr-geh-REET), a sister who befriends young Marie at the orphanage.