During World War II, the sailor Anatoly and his captain, Tikhon, are captured by the Nazis when they board their barge and tugboat which is carrying a shipment of coal. The Nazi officer leading the raid offers Anatoly the choice to shoot Tikhon and stay alive which Anatoly reluctantly takes, and Tikhon falls overboard. The Nazis blow up the ship but Anatoly is found by Russian Orthodox monks on the shore the next morning. He survives and becomes a stoker at the monastery but is perpetually overcome with guilt.
Thirty years pass. Anatoly now has the gifts of prophecy and healing. But the other monks do not really understand him. People come to see Anatoly for cures and guidance, but even now, he remains in a perpetual state of repentance. He often gets in a boat and goes to an uninhabited island where he prays for mercy and forgiveness.
A prominent admiral and his daughter arrive to see Anatoly. The daughter is possessed by a demon but Anatoly exorcises it. The admiral turns out to be Tikhon. It is revealed that Anatoly only wounded him during the war. Tikhon forgives Anatoly.
Anatoly announces his death by Wednesday; the monks provide a coffin. Dressed in a white garment such as Jesus wore, he lies in the coffin, wearing a crucifix. Monks, one carrying a large cross representing the risen Christ, are seen rowing the coffin away from the island.