A while back I mentioned that I’ve been working my way through My Life with the Saints by Father James Martin.
Father Martin does not list Chesterton among his “holy people,” but he does cite GKC
In his appreciation of St. Francis, he mentions that he’s read a number of biographies, including “G. K. Chesterton’s affectionate one.”
Chesterton’s biography of St. Francis was actually one of the books that got me reading Chesterton in the first place, so I was disappointed Father Martin did not say more about it.
He made up for that in is discussion of St. Thomas Aquinas and Chesterton.
“In his touching biography, Saint Thomas Aquinas, the English writer G. K. Chesterton compares Thomas and another beloved saint, Francis of Assisi. Were we to see the two of them coming over the hill in their friars’ habits, the contrast between them would seem almost comic. (But what a wonderful conversation they would surely have!) Francis, writes Chesterton, was a 'lean and lively little man; thin as a thread and vibrant as a bowstring; and in his motions like an arrow from a bow.' Thomas, on the other hand, he describes as a 'huge, heavy bull of a man, fat and slow and quiet; very mild and magnanimous but not very sociable; shy, even apart from the humility of loneliness.'”
He later cites Chesterton’s “delightful phrase, 'occasionally wrote a hymn like a man taking a holiday'” in reference to St. Thomas’ songs we still sing.
Fr. Martin said he came to like Aquinas the person, not the philosopher, “Specifically, it was the person I met in G. K Chesterton’s Saint Thomas Aquinas whom I found so compelling and attractive. The immensely learned man given to deep humility. The theologian whose lifelong study of God drew him ever closer to God. The famously busy scholar who was not too busy to write a poem or a hymn. The active person whose life was rooted in prayer.”
Finally, in his last section “For Further Reading,” he recommends Chesterton’s biography as “a fine introduction to the life of the Angelic Doctor.”
I haven’t read Chesterton's Aquinas in a while. Maybe that should be one of the books I add to my “To Read” pile for the summer.
But first, I have to finish Father Martin’s book - it’s due back at the library!
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