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The hand of St. Francis Xavier is seen in a reliquary at the Jesuits' Church of the Gesu in Rome Sept. 8. Relics of holy people have been venerated since early Christianity. (CNS/Paul Haring)

When you need to get the real story about some of history's most fascinating women, call Stacy Schiff. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author's work includes Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) and Cleopatra: A Life. In her highly anticipated new book, The Witches: Salem, 1692, Schiff focuses on an infamous and dark period of American history, especially as it relates to women: the Salem witch trials.

Jeweled skeleton of Saint Munditia, patron saint of spinsters St. Peter’s Church, Munich, Germany. As you enter St. Peter’s church bear left, and halfway down the aisle you will find a glass coffin bearing the skeleton of Saint Munditia. Sewn into a transparent body stocking covered with gold and jewels, with glass eyes staring upwards, her remains have been here since their transfer from the Roman catacombs in 1675. She is believed to have been martyred in 310 AD, beheaded with a hatchet.