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The idea of saints and sainthood are familiar to all, irrelevant of religious faith. In this Very Short Introduction, Simon Yarrow looks at the origins, ideas, and definitions of sainthood, sanctity, and saints in the early Church, tracing their development in history and explaining the social roles saints played in the ancient, medieval, and modern worlds. Along the way Yarrow considers the treatment of saints as objects of literary and artistic expression and interpretation, and as examples of idealised male and female heroism, and compares Christian saints and holy figures to venerated figures in other religious cultures, including Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. He concludes by considering the experiences of devotees to saints, and looking at how saints continue to be a powerful presence in our modern world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.