Sister Angelica, a Florentine noblewoman, has been compelled by her family to take the veil, following a youthful fault, and for seven years has in vain been waiting tidings from her family or friends. The abbess announces that Angelica's aunt, the Princess, has come to call on her and warns her to be full of submission and humility in her conversation with the old lady. The Princess coldly tells Angelica that she has come in order that she may sign a certain act of release which is made necessary by the coming wedding of the nun's younger sister. She adds that one course of action only is open to Angelica, and that course is lifelong expiation.
Finally, in answer to Angelica's question, the Princess informs her that her child, “the baby whom she had seen and kissed only once,” had died two years previously. Thereupon Angelica, seized by a sudden frenzy, concocts a poison and seeks suicide. Seized by remorse at her act, she implores the Virgin not to let her die in mortal sin, and then a miracle takes place. The Mother of Comfort suddenly appears on the threshold of the little church, enveloped in celestial radiance; a blonde child walks in front of the Virgin, who, with a gesture of ineffable benevolence, gently pushes the the boy into the arms of his dying mother, while a choir of nuns and angels sings “Thou Art Saved.”