Märta Torén is the titular heroine of the Italian romantic drama Maddelena. The story takes plays during the annual Good Friday pageant in a tiny Italian village. Local priest Don Vincenzo (Gino Cervi) faces a crisis when the girl selected to play the Virgin Mary shows up pregnant. This turn of events is beneficial to business mogul Lamberti (Charles Vanel), who has been seeking out a way to discredit Don Vincenzo in the eyes of the villagers. Adding to the priest's headaches are the "stage parents" of the many applicants for the role of the Blessed Virgin. In desperation, Don Vincenzo decides to hire an outsider for the role -- ample opportunity for the villainous Lamberti to bring in a prostitute named Maddelena as the prime candidate. Through a series of unfortunate coincidences, poor Maddelena ends up as the tragic victim of mob rule and collective stupidity.