What is our modern concept of penance? Is it giving up chocolates for Lent or is it a lasting state of the awareness of sin? Is it public or private? Is it punishment or greater closeness to God? Is it always a response to personal sin or can an individual do penance for others' sins, or for the world? Ann Widdecombe looks at voluntary penance and its relation to repentance, at prescribed but not enforced penance as part of the sacrament of Absolution and, as an ex-Prisons Minister, at the role of penance as enforced by the State. Penance in art, penance in literature, penance in history, penance in the Bible are all examined in an important and thoughtful meditation on the concept of penance in the 21st Century.