The period from the fourth through the seventh century witnessed the elaboration of Christian cults of saints with a particular interest in the ascetic labors and miraculous powers of holy men and women. Although much evidence for these cults derives from literary saints' lives, a genre that emerged simultaneously with the cults, scholars have overlooked the role of the hagiographer as devotee. Previous studies have tended to view an author's piety as a barrier to historical inquiry, dismissing miracle accounts (among other hagiographical elements) as pious fictions. Neglect of the religious dimensions of the activity of writing arises in part from the confluence of two trends. First, renewed interest in late antique popular culture highlights the affinities between the religious life of elites and nonelites. Despite the refreshing aspects of this approach, the distinctly literary contributions to the formation of piety have been overlooked. Second, traditional divisions between patristics and social history continue to exclude theology and religious composition from discussions of piety on the assumption that thought and action are separable. Thanks to the work of Catherine Bell and others, students of religion can appreciate that thinking is an activity, something obvious to Christians in late antiquity such as Gregory of Nyssa, for whom contemplation of God was virtuous motion.