The Penitent One is the player character and main protagonist of Blasphemous and the associated prequel comic, Blasphemous: The Kneeling. He wears silver plated armor and his design is based on traditional Catholic precepts, such as the red cord or cincture he wears around his waist and his distinct capirote-like pointed helmet. He has no dialogue as he has made a vow of silence as his penance.
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 believed silence of the Twisted One, 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 as a DLC (PC version only).
- 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 Alms For Oblivion is rewarded for donating 100,000 tears to the alms box in the Albero Church. This skin was released alongside the Stir of Dawn update.
- The Penitence skins (Bleeding Heart, Unwavering Faith, True Guilt) are rewarded for beating the game in True Torment Mode (NG+) with their respective Penitence.
- The Eternal Rest skin is rewarded for completing all boss rush stages in True Torment difficulty.
- The Archaic Exaltation skin is rewarded for completing the Alcazar of Grief 8-bit minigame, with all 5 golden skulls obtained.
- The Examplaris Excomvnicationis skin is rewarded for completing the game by getting the true, canonical ending added in the Wounds of Eventide update.
- The Echo & Shadow skin is rewarded by killing Sierpes for the first time.
- The Chantress of the Dead skin is rewarded by killing Isidora, Voice of the Dead for the first time.
- The Relentless Rectitude skin is rewarded by obtaining S+ on all difficulties on all Sacred Sorrows.
- The The Adventure skin is rewarded by finding a secret path within the Alcazar of Grief 8-bit minigame (it can be found midway through the dungeon in a pillar on the wall, just in the room right after descending down into the depths).
- The Ancient History skin is rewarded by inputting the konami code on the title screen (excluding A, B, and start).
- 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.
- Although silence is often associated with Catholic monastic orders, no major monastic orders practice a total vow of silence, having allotted times for speech in even the most extreme cases. Often cited reasons for this are due to the important connotations speech has in vocal prayer and especially in the act of confession.
- Silver, the metal composing The Penitent One's armor and helmet, is often used in Christianity as a symbol of atonement and redemption, but also of betrayal.