Chesterton’s biography of St Thomas Aquinas is the picture of a saintly genius – by a literary artist who himself had claims to intellectual splendour and heroic goodness. It has been praised by professional scholars who appreciate Chesterton’s grasp of St Thomas’ thought, as well as by ordinary readers who admire his flair for presenting the richness of this thought in such a compelling way.
Yet it is not a conventional biography, abounding in facts and figures. It is, rather, a vehicle for illuminating St Thomas’s life and his vast achievement in penetrating the truths of the Christian faith informed by reason.
Our confused age is desperate for such transcendental wisdom. It calls out for high reason in the midst of irrationality and loss of faith, Christian realism in the face of utopian expectations, and Christian hope in response to prophecies of doom. Chesterton’s biography remains unrivalled for its revelation of St Thomas’s mind and heart. It bears out his insight that “each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most.”
Karl Schmude, President of the Australian Chesterton society and co-founder of Campion College Australia