Myrrhina, a courtisane, seeks out a hermit who she has heard is beautiful; she hopes to tempt him from his righteous path into a life of earthly love. However, on beholding the cross for the first time, she finds herself instead converting to a life of virtue, while he, who indeed has fallen for her beauty, hopes to take her away as his lover.
Of the play, the critic H. Montgomery Hyde wrote: 'in some ways it is not unlike Salomé and though written in English Wilde may have had it in mind for the French theatre. The paradox of a female sinner converting a righteous male rarely fails to attract an audience and has been used by many other writers notably Somerset Maugham.'
Written in 1894, La Sainte Courtisane exists only as a fragment and was never completed. Here, a line of dots in the text indicates where a new fragment begins.