The Penitent One carries a unique sword, the Mea Culpa. Its hilt has an emblem of El Retorcido and its blade is wrapped in thorns. It is an embodiment of guilt and correspondingly the expiation therefrom, forged in the heart of a guilty woman.
The Penitent One is the lone survivor of a congregation called the Brotherhood of the Silent Sorrow, so named because those in the congregation have taken a vow of silence as a form of penance. The Brotherhood's silence is a reflection upon the silence of God, as evidenced by the lore of the Key to the Chamber of the Eldest Brother.
The entirety of the Brotherhood was cast out for a past indiscretion or some sort of conflict with the Church. The nature of this indiscretion is not made clear, but it is possible that it relates to the Penitent One's mission to reach the Cradle of Affliction.
The Penitent One has various skins that can be either purchased or acquired through other means:
- The Golden Burden skin was awarded to Kickstarter Backers.
- The Alloy of Sin skin is purchasable with the game.
- The Son of the Miracle is rewarded for achieving the true ending.
- The True Apostasy is rewarded for achieving the bad ending. It is also awarded if you achieve the true ending on your first play-through.
- The Warden of the Ossuary is rewarded for collecting all Collectibles.
- The Penitent One's design is based on the sambenito, the uniform used by some brotherhoods during Holy Week to display penance. His helmet also closely resembles a capirote, a long, pointed hat that originated from the flagellant brotherhoods of Spain.
- Members of The Game Kitchen have confirmed that most concepts of the game (including the details on the Penitent One and other characters) were inspired by Goya's painting Procession of Flagellants.
- The character's face is inspired by the Roman imperial masks found in Kalkriese Hill in Germany.