Carmelite Nun (1891-1942)
+ Edith Stein was the eleventh child of a Jewish family from Wroclaw, Poland. As a teenager, she renounced her family’s faith and became an atheist.
+ A lifelong seeker of truth, she subjected every idea to fierce intellectual scrutiny and as a university student she studied psychology and philosophical phenomenology.
+ One of her professors introduced Edith to contemporary Catholic philosophy and this began the process of conversion that led to her baptism in 1922.
+ Inspired by the life of Saint Teresa of Avila, Edith eventually joined the Discalced Carmelites in Cologne, Germany, receiving the religious name “Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.”
+ As a person of Jewish ancestry, she was subject to the Nazis’ anti-Jewish policies and she fled to the Netherlands in order to protect the members of her community in Germany. It was there that she wrote her major work, The Science of the Cross.
+ In 1942, Sister Teresa Benedicta was arrested and deported to the concentration camp at Auschwitz where she was killed in the gas chambers on August 9.
+ Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross has been heralded as a model of virtue, self-denial, and heroism for both Jews and Christians and was canonized in 1998. Executed with Saint Teresa Benedicta was her sister, Rosa, who had also converted to Catholicism and who was living as an extern sister in the Carmel in Cologne.
For prayer and reflection
“The Savior hangs before you with a pierced heart. He has spilled his heart’s blood to win your heart. If you want to follow him in holy purity, your heart must be free of every earthly desire. Jesus, the Crucified, is to be the only object of your longings, your wishes, your thoughts.”—Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
God of our Fathers,
who brought the Martyr Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
to know your crucified Son
and to imitate him even until death,
grant, through her intercession,
that the whole human race may acknowledge Christ as its Savior
and through him come to behold you for eternity.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.