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In sixteenth century Spain, Carlos Alvarez, a young Spaniard of noble birth, returns to his family's ruined castle after spending four years studying for the priesthood in Seville. Carlos is welcomed by the old servant woman who reared him, and he tells her of his discovery of the Scriptures and his desire to see them translated into the Spanish language so that everyone can read them. After reminding Carlos that the Church has forbidden such translations, the woman reveals that, just before Carlos was born, his father was arrested for voicing the same sentiments. That night, a mysterious peddler named Fernando, whose real business is smuggling Spanish-language Bibles, visits the castle. After Carlos accepts a copy of the Spanish New Testament, the peddler recommends that he visit a Jeromite monastery. At the monastery, Carlos meets Fray Cristobal, the prior, and is told that he must choose between Christ and the corrupt church system. Rejecting the choice, Carlos returns to Seville to enter the service of the church, but instead is accused of heresy and arrested for visiting the monastery. In prison, Carlos again meets Fernando, who has been caught smuggling Bibles. After explaining the meaning of the gospel to Carlos, Fernando urges him to accept Christ and reject the corrupt institution of the church. To save himself, at his hearing, Carlos names Fray Cristobal as a heretic. As a reward, the Grand Inquisitor, Gaspar Munebraga, grants Carlos the honor of carrying a lighted candle at the ceremony in which the heretics will be burned. As the victims are being chained to their stakes, Carlos is ordered to light a fire at the stake of Fernando. Faced with the unwavering faith of the peddler, Carlos at last accepts Christ and throws his torch to the ground in defiance of the inquisitors. Carlos is immediately arrested and tortured to force him to recant, but Carlos, fortified by his newfound faith, refuses to bend to the will of the inquisitors. Chained to the stake, Carlos faces his own death with courage.