There are certainly many studies of Saint Francis of Assisi that an interested reader might find, and many of them immensely praiseworthy. But in reading G.K. Chesterton on Francis you get two glories for one: first is an enlightening study of this most beloved of Christian saints, and second is Chesterton himself, one of the great Christian writers of the 20th century, who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1922 because, it has been said, "only the Roman Church could produce a St. Francis of Assisi". Published shortly after his conversion, Chesterton wrote this book in part to reclaim Francis for the Church. There are always those who want to claim Francis for their cause, Chesterton recognised, who also fail to understand the spiritual and intellectual ground upon which he stands. Chesterton would return Francis to Christ. As he summarises:
however wild and romantic his gyrations might appear to many, [Francis] always hung on to reason by one invisible and indestructible hair ... The great saint was sane ... He was not a mere eccentric because he was always turning towards the center and heart of the maze; he took the queerest and most zigzag short cuts through the wood, but he was always going home.
As one editor of Chesterton's puts it, "of St. Francis he might have said what he said about Blake: 'We always feel that he is saying something very plain and emphatic even when we have not the wildest notion of what it is'". --Doug Thorpe
"'I am here addressing the ordinary man, sympathetic but sceptical...; 'I hope that we may get a glimmering of why the poet who praised his lord the sun, often hid himself in a dark cavern, of why the saint who was so gentle with his brother the wolf was so harsh to his brother the ass (as he nicknamed his own body), of why the troubadour who said that love set his heart on fire seperated himself from women and why the singer who rejoiced in the strength and gaiety of the fire rolled himself in the snow...'"
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