For millions of people saints provide comfort, hope and inspiration and act as intercessors to God. But whilst the earliest saints and martyrs served an essentially spiritual role within society their impact and influence can also be found today throughout the modern secular world. The term saint comes from the Latin word 'sanctus' meaning Holy. Many of the first saints were Christian martyrs who died for their faith. The original meaning of the accolade of martyr was 'witness'. The earliest recorded account of the veneration of a Christian martyr relates to St Polycarp who died for his faith in 156 AD. The surviving text recounts that his fellow Christians gathered his bones or 'relics' together and placed them at a site where they could be re-visited on the anniversary of his death. The stories of the lives of the saints and the different aspects of their cults underpin many of the fundamental concepts of the modern world. In this wide-ranging text Giles Morgan examines the history of saints and the development of the notion of sainthood through to the modern day.