Brief biographies take a secular and historic approach to the lives and attributes of 20 saints. Readers won't need a religious background to find it fascinating that Martin of Tours is the patron saint of France, beggars, and soldiers; Jerome takes librarians and scholars as his special charge; and Apollonia looks after dentists and those with a toothache. Those who thought the Power Rangers were brutal may want to preview the stories before sharing them with very young readers: As punishment for refusing to renounce her God, Apollonia had her teeth pulled out one by one before leaping to her death in a bonfire; Lucy plucked out her eyes and sent them to a despondent suitor. Sublime paintings by Giotto, Zurbarn, Raphael, and others illuminate the saints' lives and remind readers how frequently they have inspired artists as well as writers, poets, and musicians. At the end of the book is a four-page listing of the paintings and the locations of the originals as well as a ""Calendar of the Principal Feasts of Saints"" that provides at least one saint for each day of the year. A ravishing glimpse of a complex subject; it leaves readers both enlightened and craving more.