The Greek elders of Lycovrissi gather to select principals from the village for the Passion Play, given every seven years at Easter. Among the various villagers, Manolios, the meek shepherd, is chosen to play Christ, and Katerina, a widow who had closed herself off to men after the death of her husband, is chosen to play Mary Magdalen. As this passionate story of savage emotions and primitive religious feeling evolves, the actors begin to change according to their roles in the biblical story. When the Turkish Agha finds his favorite dead in bed, he arrests the village elders and threatens to hang one a day until the murderer is discovered. Manolios, because of a strange dream, believes he must offer himself as sacrifice and confesses to the slaying.