pen-i-tent / pĕn-ĭ-tənt
1. feeling or displaying deep regret for one’s sins or wrongdoings; contrite
He expressed no regret for what he had done which satisfied her; his style was not penitent, but haughty.
From “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, 1775 – 1817
1. one who deeply regrets his or her sins or wrongdoings and seeks forgiveness
Following this letter one of the Masonic Brothers whom Pierre respected less than the others forced his way in to see him and, turning the conversation upon Pierre’s matrimonial affairs, by way of fraternal advice expressed the opinion that his severity to his wife was wrong and that he was neglecting one of the first rules of Freemasonry by not forgiving the penitent.
From “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy, 1828 – 1910
2. (in the Roman Catholic Church) one who confesses his or her sins to a priest and performs penance
“Well,” said Raoul, “the poor man will get his priest, but, by Heaven, the penitent appears to me to have a better conscience than the confessor.
From “Twenty Years After” by Alexandre Dumas, 1802 – 1870