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Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Francis of Assisi

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  187 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Here, together in a single volume, are the two biographies that many critics consider both Chesterton's best, and the best short portraits ever written of these two great saints. St. Francis of Assisi is a profoundly Catholic work, explaining and illuminating the life of St. Francis in a way no other biography has. The spiritual kinship the author felt with his subject ena ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Ignatius Press
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Josephine (Jo)
I loved these two biographies. I have always been very fond of Chesterton and I especially love his animal poems. He does a great job with these two life stories; I knew less about St. Thomas Aquinas than I did about St. Francis because St. Francis is a particular favourite of mine. Chesterton has made me like Aquinas much more. I was amused by Thomas' family when they were trying to stop him from becoming a monk. Their rough handling of their dreaming "dumb Ox" of a brother reminded me of the b ...more
Feb 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
I only read the Saint Francis half of this book. Saint Thomas Aquinas will have to wait for another day. Chesterton's biography of Francis is not the sort of straight-forward historical biography I'm used to reading. Although he describes it as an "introduction," Chestron assumes the reader already knows the basic story of Francis' life, he takes events out of order, and engages in debate with contemporary critics. So it's more like an essay or an anlysis than a biogrpahy. That said, Chestrton p ...more
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I came at this book having little knowledge of either St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Francis of Assisi. Chesterton does a wonderful job of giving a sketch of both lives and also something of a comparison of the two. As in all Chesterton's writings, he comes at a simple biography from a different angle than most biographers. He doesn't give so much as a chronology of their lives as a look into their heart and minds and philosophies and how they influenced their world ... and are still influencing our ...more
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Not really what I was looking for. I should have taken the warning about Chesterton being wordy more seriously. That guy can seriously ramble. Also, he's unabashedly biased towards Aquinas. I was kind of looking for a more balanced look at his life and philosophies/theologies. Instead, most of the book was spent explaining why "The Thomist" was superior to any other belief system. I would still like to read a good book on Thomas Aquinas, but I'll probably stay away from Chesterton.
Apr 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Christian history
I am falling in love with Chesterton, and I can't figure out if I should be surprised by this fact. At any rate, this is a brilliant book, full of remarkable philosophical and historical insight. I think that if one didn't already know quite a bit about the lives and works of these two saints it might be hard to follow, since the book is not written like a straightforward biography.

Chesterton is a joy to read. I wish I could devote the summer to him.

So far, a vintage Chesterton; he brings Aquinas to life as no one else I've read has. I think an understanding of Aquinas is increasingly important for our age. GKC is a marvellous aid to this.
And Francis of Assisi! GKC made me want to know him - far above any aspirations of mine spiritually, but such a lovely character! Chesterton excels as always.
Douglas Wilson
Mar 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Chesterton is always a grand, spacious read. I read these biographies of St. Thomas and St. Francis many years ago, and then again now. Chesterton is a delight even when defending the indefensible. He is especially endearing in his confusions about Calvinism, but we love him anyway.
May 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: catholic
I had to read this for my college class. I had a real additude about it, thought it was MAJOR boring, but read it anyway. How ignorant can I be! Haa! I was shocked I totally LOVED it! It was an excellent book. It is two books in one.
Eric Orchard
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Full of wonder and beauty.
Joseph R.
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Chesterton takes on a challenging task in writing a biography of Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis was beloved in his own life time, so even the earliest sources are bound to exaggerate (if not make up) stories. Or at least skeptics can assume so. And Francis's life was well over five hundred years ago leaving plenty of time for legends and misconceptions to grow. How can a modern, interested person get a true understanding of the man with so many obstacles in the way?

Chesterton flies over such h
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
When I learned about this book's existence, I immediately moved it to the top of my to-read list. What more could one want from a book about two of the greatest saints in the history of the Catholic Church written by one of the finest writers in the history of the English language?
Chesterton's wit, wisdom and insight are beautifully framed in his sublime wordcraft, which rises to a poetic climax towards the end of each chapter.
Written about seven hundred years after the time of St Francis and St
Jan 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Although I entered a date for finishing the book, it's actually the date I gave up on this book. I read the 2016 edition which started with an intro and then St. Francis which might be the opposite of this addition but likely the same text. I found Chesterton's writing style academic and boring. He didn't delve into the lives of the saints as much as I expected. He makes references to people from his time that I don't know. I made it through St. Francis but gave up shortly into St. Thomas. I fou ...more
John Tessitore
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea if Chesterton's biographies are factually accurate. There aren't that many facts to go on. I'm not even sure if they're theologically accurate. But these books are about Chesterton as much as they are about the saints. They're a good writer's best case for his own faith. And if the writer's good enough (as Chesterton is), and the subject's strong enough (Francis and Thomas are pretty strong), the book has to be worth reading. I wouldn't recommend these books for everyone, but if y ...more
Feb 12, 2009 marked it as to-read
This is really two books in one volume. I just finished the first on Saint Thomas Aquinas. Holy cow! Chesterton is a master of the English language, and you really have to follow closely with some of his word play. But through that he seems to have a great depth of understanding. Chesterton is that rare thinker who can get at the essence of something and that even rarer writer that can communicate it an engagingly succinct way. I need to read more about Aquinas and more by Chesterton.
Aug 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Chesteron spends less time on the history of St. Thomas than he does on the mind of St. Thomas. For Chesteron to know this saint requires more than knowing dates, times, activities; it requires pealing back the curtain around one of the greatest minds that ever lived. Chesterton helps us to understand the greatness of Aquinas thought, not only in its impacts on the Middle Ages, but for our own time; which could use a return of common sense based on the senses that St. Thomas proposed.
robert miecznikowski
You never know

Chesterton's biography of these two minds is approached in an interesting manner. He begins each with a discussion of what the conditions of the world was and how each man changed it. He also made many stories to give examples of their lives and how they changed the history of our lives.
Vance J.
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the perspective offered on the life of St. Francis of Assisi, although I recommend the reader be familiar with St. Francis' life. Chesterton's work places St. Francis in the context of his time and I'd consider it more of a discussion of St. Francis' life than a specific biography.
Two biographies by the early 20th Century convert. One, more enthusiastic, written soon after conversion, maybe not coincidentally considers the saint famed for his enthusiasm; one, more measured and polemic, written years later about the figural founder of Scholasticism. The Francis book appeals, while the Aquinas book exhorts; both consist more of ruminations than descriptions.
Apr 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Someone interested in a popular introduction to St. Thomas and St. Francis
Shelves: religion, biography
Written with Chesterton's usual witty and insightful prose, both books provide popular introductions to the worlds of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis of Assisi. The books are less about their ideas, and more about their social contexts.
Sep 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
These narratives are not really biographies; as Chesterton repeatedly says, though, he merely wants to give a sketch of Thomas Aquinas and Francis of Assisi and create interest in these men. So far, I like Mr. Chesterton.
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: inklings
The biography of St. Thomas did accomplish its goal of peaking my interest in finding out more about Aquinas. But both biographies were more about the philosophy of Chesterton and contained little about the lives and work of their titular subjects.
May 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 999-challenge, own
St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis of Assisi: With Introductions by Ralph McInerny and Joseph Pearce by G. K. Chesterton (2002)
Aug 07, 2013 added it
A nice edition of these two works. They are great to read one after the other, although St. Francis should be read first, followed by St. Thomas.
Mar 29, 2009 marked it as to-read
Reading the St. Francis portion with my small group. Very deep and yet not linear at all.
Aaron Crofut
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, religion
It's difficult to review a book that wanders as much as St. Francis, but like the great saint, it always seems to find something useful to ponder wherever it goes. In the main, this introduces us to the Heart and Mind of the Church, St. Francis and St. Thomas Aquinas. Both are treated in a manner similar to their personalities. The section on St. Thomas is fairly focused on revealing the calm but passionate man behind the philosophy, while the section on St. Francis is frantically going wherever ...more
Andrew Watson
rated it it was amazing
Aug 16, 2017
Michael Panka
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Dec 28, 2007
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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was born in London, educated at St. Paul’s, and went to art school at University College London. In 1900, he was asked to contribute a few magazine articles on art criticism, and went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote a hundred books, contributions to 200 more, hundreds of poems, including the epic Ballad of the White Horse, fi ...more
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“Therefore it is the paradox of history that each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most.” 1 likes
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