One of my favourite characters in Lés Miserables is someone who has very little screen/stage time but who is very much the hinge on which the story turns. I mean of course the Bishop who shows Valjean unconditional love and brings him to God. This is a fascinating article on the development of the character and what Victor Hugo was trying to do with such a positive portrayal of a cleric in a time when the church was seen as hopelessly corrupt.
The book’s first hundred pages or so are a detailed chronicle of Myriel’s exemplary life, showing that his intervention on behalf of Jean Valjean was part of a long track record and not a singular aberration. Apparently Hugo recognized no contradiction between his anticlericalism and the possibility—or certainty—that grace could be mediated by a just priest who was transparent to the divine and never betrayed the human.
Read the whole article, it’s not that long. I want to read the book even more now, just to read more about Bishop Welcome.