An all-girl Catholic boarding school near Vienna for the wealthy Austrian elite and their children. The school is thriving, but faith is declining and the upper floors are deserted. The head of the institution, a young energetic nun, fights with ardor against this decline. Martha, 12, one of the nun’s favorite pupils, is a devoted girl who wishes to expiate the sins of the world. Encouraged by the nun, she is given a penance belt and taken to the abandoned upper floor.