It is 1976. Journalist Robert Torres (Dougray Scott) is researching a Catholic priest, Josemaria Escriva, the founder of a Catholic group called Opus Dei, who had recently died amidst rumors of sanctity. Much to his surprise, Robert discovers that his estranged father, Manolo (Wes Bentley), grew up in the same village in Spain and even went to the same seminary. Robert travels from London to Madrid to find answers to his questions, but even after an eight-year silence, his father will not speak to him.
Manolo is a man haunted by his past. He was the child of wealthy parents while Josemaria’s father owned a chocolate factory that he lost when times turned bad. Early on Manolo became envious of Josemaria because he could see that the Escriva family was filled with love while his own father was stern and even cruel.
After a year in the seminary, Manolo leaves. Josemaria (Charlie Cox) however, becomes a priest. He gathers a few young men who are interested in becoming priests and living holy lives. They teach and work in hospitals. After a few years, Josemaria asks permission of the auxiliary bishop of Valencia (Robert Blythe) to found a community that will include laity, both men and women who will live separately, and even married couples. Their mission will be to teach others to find holiness in daily life and work.
Meanwhile the Spanish Civil War breaks out in 1936. Manolo is sent as a spy among the socialists. He learns to kill. He falls in love with Ildiko (Olga Kurylenko), a young Hungarian woman who has come to fight with the revolutionaries. She notices Manolo’s jealousy when she becomes attracted to their leader and is repulsed by his envy. Things come to a head when Ildiko becomes pregnant.