Set the World on Fire

A 4-Week Personal Retreat with the Female Doctors of the Church

Table of Contents

Read a Sample

Format: Paperback

Publication date: March 25, 2022

Also available from


Awarded an honorable mention for classical spirituality by the Catholic Media Association.

Only four women in the two thousand–year history of the Church—Thérèse of Lisieux, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, and Hildegard of Bingen—have the distinction of being named Doctors of the Church because of their impact on the faith.

In Set the World on Fire, bestselling author, retreat leader, and spiritual director Vinita Hampton Wright offers a four-week personal retreat that immerses you in the dramatic lives, historical eras, and groundbreaking ideas of these formidable saints and invites you to develop the grit, humility, pragmatism, hope, joy, and vision these women possessed.

Each week of your retreat begins with weekend reading and prayer to introduce the saint and the primary topic of the chapter, followed by five days of morning and evening prayer. Much of the text comes from the saint’s own writings. Scripture, reflection questions, and suggestions for action are designed to help you engage personally with the saint and her wisdom for living your faith.

Each week offers a unique and in-depth experience of the saint and her unique gifts to the Church:

  • Week one: St. Thérèse of Lisieux—the young Carmelite nun whose autobiography sent ripples across Christendom—will teach you to love God through her Little Way.
  • Week two: St. Teresa of Avila—a Carmelite who spent years reforming her order and gave to the world a spiritual masterpiece called The Interior Castle—will instruct you in trusting your personal experience of God.
  • Week three: St. Catherine of Siena—a Third-Order Dominican who poured out her life for people in need but also gave astute, sharp direction to Church leaders—will guide you to live every moment with courage through the love of truth.
  • Week four: St. Hildegard of Bingen—a Benedictine abbess whose spiritual visions led to books, poetry, music, art, and early scientific discovery—will show you how to engage life with passion and creativity.

Each woman’s experience of God, understanding of spirituality, and timeless wisdom gained her the title Doctor of the Church, which indicates that through her life, research, study, and writing, she has deepened and advanced the faith.

Product Details

Pages: 192

Trim size: 6 x 9 inches

ISBN: 9781646801015

Imprint: Ave Maria Press

  • “Inspiring.”

    “This book highlights the spirituality and brilliance of some of the most influential women in Church history. From the soaring visions of St. Hildegard to the little way of St. Therese, this retreat guides the reader in a simple yet profound reflection that will leave the soul refreshed and inspired.”

    Fr. Blake Britton
    Contributor to Word on Fire Catholic Ministries

  • “Important.”

    “Vinita Hampton Wright is the perfect retreat guide for this inner exploration, holding the brilliance of these four saints with the precision of an artist and the expansiveness of a spiritual director. This book is an important offering for those seeking authentic inner growth.

    Shannon K. Evans
    Author of Embracing Weakness

  • “A true gift.”

    “A true gift. Not only does Set the World on Fire provide everything we could possibly need for a rich, self-guided meditative journey but it also invites us to participate in the intimate prayer lives of four spiritual giants of the Church, women whose visionary wisdom transformed Church doctrine.”

    Paula Huston
    Author of One Ordinary Sunday

  • “A brilliant resource.”

    “Whether you are doing this retreat all by yourself or in conversation with friends, if you are seeking to develop a spiritual life in the world you will find Set the World on Fire a brilliant resource.”

    Timothy P. O’Malley
    Author of Real Presence 

Related Products