G. K. Chesterton was one of the most provocative and well-loved English writers of the twentieth century. Renowned for his journalism and as an essayist, he was the author of around eighty books, some two hundred short stories, four thousand essays and several plays. His writing ranged from fiction and poetry, to history, philosophy, political, social and literary criticism, theology and Catholic apologetics. From his short stories, his best-known character is the priest-detective Father Brown. Through his writing Chesterton was to have a profound effect on generations of Christians. His own discovery of the Christian religion was achieved with an intellectual rigour which we can say is the hallmark of all his great writings, a category which includes much of his journalism. And though Chesterton never flaunted his personal faith, his passionate commitment to it could emerge at any time. His works reflect a life that was filled with wonder and joy, a constancy in fighting for the Christian faith in a world losing belief, a lifelong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and his love for all men, especially for the poor.But are there good grounds for considering Gilbert Keith Chesterton for canonisation? On his death, Pope Pius XI described Chesterton as a 'gifted defender of the Catholic Faith', while at his Requiem Mass Monsignor Ronald Knox was to say 'Blessed are they that saw him and were honoured by his friendship. They found in him a living example of charity, of chivalry, of unbelievable humility which will remain with them, perhaps as a more effective document of Catholic verity than any word even he wrote.' The late Cardinal Emmett Carter described G. K. Chesterton, on the fiftieth anniversary of his death, as one of those 'holy lay persons' who have exercised a truly prophetic role within the Church and the world. He did not then, although later he changed his mind, believe that it would be possible to introduce a cause for his ultimate canonisation, since he did 'not think that we are sufficiently emancipated from certain concepts of sanctity' to be able to contemplate such a thing. In this book, a range of distinguished contributors contemplate just that. We all know that he was an enormously good man as well as an enormous one. My point is that he was more than that. There was a special integrity and blamelessness about him, a special devotion to the good and to justice ... Above all, there was that breathtaking, intuitive (almost angelic) possession of the Truth and awareness of the supernatural which only a truly holy person can enjoy. This was the gift of heroic intelligence and understanding - and of heroic prophecy. He was a giant, spiritually as well as physically. Has there ever been anyone quite like him in Catholic history? Professor J J Scarisbrick
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