Evelyn Waugh claimed that G.K. Chesterton never actually read the Summa Theologica. He simply ran his fingers over the binding and absorbed its content. It is certainly as good a legend as Dorothy Collins’ account of Chesterton dictating half the book of St. Thomas Aquinas to her, stopping, asking her to get some books (“What books?” “I don’t know”), her returning from London with a stack of books, him paging rapidly through one of them, taking a walk in his garden, entering his study and saying “Shall we do a little Tommy?” The journalist then proceeded to dictate the rest of the book that put all Thomistic scholars to shame. Etienne Gilson praised it as the best book ever written on St. Thomas Aquinas.
Chesterton begins by comparing Aquinas with St. Francis of Assisi. In spite of their obvious contrasts, he says, “they were really doing the same thing. One of them was doing it in the world of the mind, the other was doing it in the world of the worldly… They were doing the same great work; one in the study, the other in the street.” Neither of them brought anything new to Christianity. Rather, they brought Christianity closer to the kingdom of God. In the process, each of them “reaffirmed the Incarnation, by bringing God back to earth.”
St. Thomas was not only intent on upholding the reality of the Incarnation. He also wanted to show what were the implications of the Incarnation. Bringing heaven and earth together means bringing body and soul together. It means Man is to be studied in his whole Manhood. A man is not a man without his body, just as a man is not a man without his soul: “A corpse is not a man; but also a ghost is not a man.” St. Thomas thereby affirms the dogma that Modernism rejects: the Resurrection of the body.
The American Chesterton Society also provides this article by Chesterton, published in The Spectator (1932), in which he sums up Saint Thomas Aquinas's importance:
We meet at 6:30 p.m. and refreshments will be served!! If you are in Wichita, Kansas or its environs, come join the Greater Wichita local branch of the American Chesterton Society, settling the Manichees and rejoicing in the Resurrection!