The scene is set during the French Restoration at the beginning of the 19th century. Jean Valjean, a galley slave who was sent to prison for stealing food, is now released after serving nineteen years. At first he only encounter mistrust and closed doors; only the saintly Bishop Bienvenu treats him kindly and takes him in. The bishop's truly Christian compassion and humanity not only restores Jean Valjean's faith in the good, but also smoothes his way back to an orderly life. As Monsieur Madeleine, Valjean is soon a wealthy industrialist and popular citizen, even becoming the mayor of a small provincial town.