Our Saint of the Week for this week is…………..
Saint Edith Stein (Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
Feast Day: August 9
(Since she made clear to me that she wanted to be my patron saint (that story is told here), it would make sense that she would be our Saint of the Week.) 🙂
Edith Stein was born in 1891 in Breslau, Poland, and was the youngest child of a large Jewish family. She was an exceptionally outstanding student, and loved philosophy, but she was particularly interested in Phenomenology. ( The study of finding the truth through the study of things around us) Edith attended Frieburg University for her higher studies under Professor Edmund Husserl, a renowned phenomenologist. She received her doctorate in philosophy summa cum laude in 1917. She later became the assistant of Prof. Husserl.
Edith had thought of herself as an Atheist since the age of 15, but soon after becoming Husserl’s assistant, she visited Frankfurt Cathedral to admire the architecture, and while there, she saw a woman come in with some shopping bags and kneel down to say a quick prayer. Edith realized that in the synagogues and Protestant churches that she visited, people simply went to the services, but here was someone who came from the busy marketplace to the empty church, as if she was going to have an intimate conversation. Edith never forgot that experience. Soon after an experience with one of her Catholic friends, Edith began to become truly interested in the Catholic Faith. While staying with some friends, Edith picked up and read a copy of the autobiography of St. Teresa of Aliva from cover to cover. As she closed the book, Edith said, “This is the Truth”. She bought herself a catechism, and studied it fervently. Edith Stein was baptized on New Year’s Day, 1922.
She entered the Carmelite Community of Cologne in 1933, and received the Habit of Carmel the following April, taking the name “Teresia Benedicta ac Cruce.” On Easter Sunday, 1935 she made her final Profession of Vows.
When the Nazi persecution of the Jews became more violent, Sr. Teresa realized that it would no longer be same for her to remain in Germany. In December of 1938, she crossed the border to Holland, which was then a neutral country, and was warmly received in the Carmel of Echt.
However, Holland soon became occupied by the Nazis. When the Dutch bishops issued a pastoral letter protesting the deportation of the Jews, the Nazis retaliated by arresting all Catholics of Jewish descent. Edith was taken from the Echt Carmel on August 2, 1942, and was transported by cattle train to Auschwitz. She died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.
Pope John Paul II beatified Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross on May 1, 1987, and canonized her on October 11, 1998.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross,
Pray for Us!
You can get a very good book on her life, suitable for 2nd-5th graders from Amazon for only $2.20!