It is now commonplace for historians of religion to treat the creation of saints as a political process that included such issues as doctrinal orthodoxy, church authority and popular practices and beliefs. The early twentieth-century Bollandist scholar of sanctity, Hippolyte Delehaye sj, touched on these when he considered the problems facing the critical, but devout, hagiographer in his history, The work of the Bollandists:
To question the lawfulness of the cult of a saint, or to raise doubts as to the authenticity of his relics, were issues which could not in most cases remain theoretical, but which demanded practical measures, and in the application of these more than usual tact was required. How was it to be made clear to the faithful that the authority of the Church was not responsible for certain vagaries? How were devotions which had taken root in the heart of the people to be suppressed without causing serious disturbances? On the other hand how were they to be upheld, in the face of the conviction that they were without foundation?… Of course the faithful have never been taught that the lives of the saints are to be believed in the same measure as the Gospel, but it is a fact that they incline to this belief. Hence was it not dangerous, from the standpoint of faith, to destroy certain pious illusions?