The years surrounding the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) witnessed a historiographical revolution that transformed the study of medieval Christianity. One might say that both a new Vatican ecclesiology and the new religious history sprang from the same conceptual root. Even as the Council articulated a definition of the Catholic Church as the people of God rather than simply a hierarchical institution, a number of important scholars were rediscovering the religious history of the Christian people. Shifting their focus away from the traditional monastic treatises on the contemplative life, scholars argued that all believers, and not just clerical specialists in the sacred, had a spiritual life that constituted a proper object for historical study. This new understanding of the history of Christian spirituality rapidly proved enormously fecund, opening as it did novel and exciting prospects for the study of popular religion.