Sainthood on the cards for GK Chesterton?

ICONIC: Heckmondwike's Holy Spirit Church
ICONIC: Heckmondwike's Holy Spirit Church

A celebrated writer who was inspired to convert to Catholicism through his friendship with a Heckmondwike priest could be on the road to sainthood.

GK Chesterton, who based his famed Father Brown books on Father John O’Connor, who built Holy Spirit Church, could be canonised after it was announced Bishop Peter Doyle, from Chesterton’s diocese of Northampton, was interested in putting the wheels in motion.

Chesterton was born in 1874 and studied art and literature in London. As well as the Father Brown books he wrote hundreds of poems, essays and short stories on many subjects including religion. Father O’Connor was said to be instrumental in his conversion to Catholicism in 1922.

He made regular visits to Heckmondwike, and famously wrote a poem about the town, which included the lines:

“In Spain the sad guitar they strike

And, yearning, sing of Heckmondwike;

The Papal guard leans on his pike

And dreams he is in Heckmondwike.”

Chesterton died in 1936, at his home in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

Pope Francis is said to have expressed support for the cause when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

John Grady, from Leeds Catholic Diocese, said a campaign for Chesterton’s canonisation had been long running.

He said: “Supporters say he was a man who freely talked the truth, who was not afraid of declaring, preaching and teaching his faith on a wider front.”

But he said the process of canonisation took years.

He said: “Two miracles have to be produced to show this man’s powers and they have to be approved by various commissions in Rome. They have a set of people who argue the case for and against, and evidence has to be considered as to him being a man of outstanding sanctity and anything that would be to the contrary. It is a long process.”