Saints’ lives occupy a fluctuating position between cult and art which challenges their claim to be a devout and unpretentious ‘simple form’. The following contribution traces the interplay in the genre between scepticism toward rhetoric on the one hand and fascination with it on the other. The greater the importance that attaches to a surplus of rhetoric and narration, the more contradictory the narrative order mandated by the genre becomes, and the more testing the conditions under which saints’ lives are narrated. The specific interference of religious and literary modes of speaking is illustrated from examples of narrative saints’ lives from the late middle ages. What tensions does the genre’s ambivalent attitude to rhetoric give rise to when telling stories about saints through the act of narratively transforming the miraculous?