Reader Survey

Question: Which of the following three statements strikes you as the most typically Chestertonian?


(a) The truth about the Dark Ages is not that they were dark, but that they were bright.

(b) The truth about the Dark Ages is not that they were not dark, for dark indeed they were. But theirs was a darkness of a different kind than that which Mr. H. G. Wells and Mr. Bernard Shaw have supposed. It was (if one may say so) a different darkness altogether.

(c) The Dark Ages were indeed dark, and were indeed terrible — terrible not because they were dark, but because they were not dark enough.

Sanctus Pius V


Mother Church, in her wisdom, knew that the feast day of the Dominican Third Order’s patroness, St Catherine of Siena, on April 29, would leave you hungry for yet more examples of Dominican sanctity. Wherefore today we celebrate the memorial of the Dominican priest Michele Ghisleieri, who acceded to the Throne of Peter in 1566; reigned as Pius V until his death in 1572; and was canonized in 1712.

Here are three fitting tributes to this holy Pope:

First, from the Canons Regular of St John Cantius – An online tutorial on the Tridentine Mass, whose original texts and rubrics were first promulgated in the Roman Missal issued by St Pius V in 1570.

Second, from G.K. Chesterton, who needs no introduction here – A few mentions of St Pius V as ‘the pope’ in the poem ‘Lepanto’, since the eponymous battle took place during Pius V’s papacy. (See also: Our Lady of the Rosary.)

Third, from – A concise biographical sketch:

A member of the Dominican order, Pius V worked hard to improve the position of the papacy. Internally, he cut expenditures and externally, he increased the power and effectiveness of the Inquistion and expanded the use of the Index of Forbidden Books. Heresy virtually disappeared from Italy and, for his efforts, he was canonized 150 years later.

‘Heresy virtually disappeared from Italy’! What a thrill this phrase must send through every Christian heart! (As for me, I am skeptical of the claim — but I want to believe!)

The Secret of Father Brown

[Read May 1993]

A great part of the pleasure in reading these stories comes from watching Fr. Brown encounter a variety of crackpots and sinners.

His simplicity, intelligence, and centeredness in the face of human absurdity, stupidity, and obfuscation.

The secret is that he empathizes with the criminal. He sees the deeper motivations of the soul and identifies himself with them.

See also: cnb’s review of the movie.