In the last years of the 16th century and the first of the 17th, a scandal of spectacular proportions burst into prominence in Milan. The tale of taint, license, corruption, and crime that rose from the goings on at the convent of Santa Margherita in Monza is here retold with reference to the ""legendary dossier"" to which Manzoni alluded in his The Betrothed. The author sets before us in all their passionate and conniving flesh the principals and accomplices of the action, speaking for -- and against-- themselves. The nun of Monza was Sister Virginia Maria de Leyva, of the Spanish aristocracy; the lover to whom she bore two children within the convent walls, was Gian Paolo Osio, whose band of bravos terrified the town with good cause. The go-between and would-be lover was Arrigone, the priest who served the Osio household and the neighboring convent. Abetted by four accomplice nuns, the lovers carried on not only their intrigue but burdened their souls with three murders as the danger of discovery demanded, thus bringing the civil authority of Governor Fuentes as well as the spiritual force of Cardinal Borromeo upon their heads. The trail is presented verbatim, with Sister Virginia unbowed by her shame. Even fourteen years in solitary, dark confinement did not break her pride, as is cunningly evidenced by her getting around the Cardinal in later years, when she was upheld as a true penitent and was entrusted with writing letters to wayward young nuns. A curious and astounding imbroglio, this cloistered crime passionel may draw fanciers of crime and punishment-- and penance.