Setting the world on fire: Inspiring quotes from St. Catherine of Siena

St. Catherine of Siena  (1347-1380)

For centuries, people have drawn inspiration from the words of St. Catherine of Siena, the 14th century Dominican tertiary (third order) and Doctor of the Church who worked tirelessly for its reform and to move the papacy back to the Vatican from Avignon.

From hundreds of letters and prayers, to her spiritual testament “The Dialogue” (composed of four treatises), her writings are classics and have been translated from Italian into many languages.

Perhaps her most famous quote is: ”Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

Draw your own inspiration from the following selection of quotes from her writings:

From “The Dialogue:”

  • “The soul is in God and God in the soul, just as the fish is in the sea and the sea in the fish.” Dialogue 2
  • “The human heart is always drawn by love.” Dialogue 26
  • “Love transforms one into what one loves.” Dialogue 60
  • “For you, high eternal Father, loved me without being loved by me.”  Dialogue 108
  • “You are rewarded not according to your work or your time, but according to the measure of your love.” Dialogue 165
  • “You, eternal Trinity, are a deep sea. The more I enter you, the more I discover, and the more I discover, the more I seek you.” Dialogue 167

From her letters:

  • “Love does not stay idle.” Letter T82
  • “Reflect that God requires nothing else of us except that we show our neighbors the love we have for God.” Letter T89
  • “Do not be satisfied with little things, because God wants great things!”  Letter T127
  • “Out of darkness is born the light.” Letter T211
  • “To the servant of God, every place is the right place, and every time is the right time.” Letter T328
  • “God is more ready to pardon that we have been to sin.”  Letter T343
  • “Consider God’s charity. Where else have we ever seen someone who has been offended voluntarily paying out his life for those who have offended him?”  Letter T345
  • “Hope comes from love, because people always trust in those they love.”  Letter T352
  • “You must believe in truth that whatever God gives or permits is for your salvation.”  Letter T354
  • “There is nothing we can desire or want that we do not find in God.” Letter T360
  • “If you are what you should be, you will set all of Italy ablaze!” Letter T368 

From her prayers:

  • “Holy Spirit, come into my heart, and in your power draw it to you.” Prayer 6
  • “It is only through shadows that one comes to know the light.” Prayer 24

Pope Benedict XVI on St. Catherine of Siena: 

During his November 24, 2010 Wednesday General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI spoke in English about Saint Catherine of Siena and her impact on the Church. Listen to his words in this brief video from Rome Reports:


Read more about this amazing saint:

Catherine of Siena: An Anthology

Translated by Suzanne Noffke, O.P.

Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (2012–2 volumes)

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.