Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is also known as St Edith Stein. She was a Discalced Carmelite nun born on October 12 1891 in Breslau (Wroclaw), Poland and died on August 9 1942 in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Gau Upper Silesia, German-occupied Poland. Her feast day is celebrated on August 9 every year in the Catholic Church.
|Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) Biography|
|Date of Birth||October 12 1891|
|Place of Birth||Breslau (Wroclaw), Poland|
|Profession||Camelite Nun and German Jewish philosopher|
|Place of Work||Germany, Netherlands, Poland|
|Date of Death||August 9 1942|
|Place of Death||Auschwitz concentration camp, General Government (Nazi-occupied Poland)|
|Feast Day||August 9|
|Beatification||By Pope John Paul II on May 1 1987, in Cologne, Germany|
|Canonization||By Pope John Paul II on October 11 1998, in Vatican City|
|Patron Saint of||
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Virgin and Martyr Life History
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross also known as Edith Stein was a Jewish philosopher who was also a Discalced Carmelite nun. She had converted to Christianity after having had a long belief in the non-existence of God.
She was the last born in a family of 11 children. Her father died while she was still very young and her mother took care of the family. Despite her mother being strict on religion, Edith Stein did not believe in the existence of God.
The family of Edith Stein moved to Breslau, in 1910, to a house her mother had bought. This house would later become the Edith Stein House, a museum depicting the history of the Stein family.
In April 1913, She decided to go to the University of Göttingen and study empathy, as part of philosophy, under Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl, a German philosopher and mathematician of Jewish origin, who established the school of phenomenology. Unfortunately, in 1915, World War I started and her studies were interrupted. This is when Stein volunteered to take care of the World War I casualties.
Still during the war, Edith Stein joined the University of Freiburg to continue studying empathy. Thereafter, she graduated with a doctorate in philosophy and became the teaching assistant of Edmund Husserl. Edmund had transferred from the University of Göttingen.
Around this time, Edith Stein had interacted with the Catholic faithful and in the process began reading the autobiography of St Teresa of Ávila. This started changing her heart from agnosticism and in 2021, she felt she needed to convert to Catholicism. She sought to become a Discalced Carmelite.
She was quoted saying,
“I saw a woman with a shopping basket going in to kneel for a brief prayer. This was something totally new to me. In the synagogues and Protestant churches, I had visited people simply went to the services. Here, however, I saw someone coming straight from the busy marketplace into this empty church, as if she was going to have an intimate conversation. It was something I never forgot.Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
One year later, on January 1 1922, Edith Stein was baptized. Stein was offered to teach at the Dominican nuns’ school in Speyer, Germany from 1923 to 1931.
Edith Stein became a lecturer at the Institute for Scientific Pedagogy in Münster, an institute of the Catholic Church, in 1932. But in April 1933, the Nazi Government passed legislation discriminating against the Jews and she was forced to quit her teaching position. This legislation required that all the civil servants get an “Aryan certificate” as part of its efforts to restore professional Civil Service. The Aryan certificate was a document that certified that a person was a member of the Aryan race that Adolf Hitler was pushing to establish.
This made her write to Pope Pius XI asking the Pope to openly denounce the regime but she did not get feedback. However, in 1937, the pope spoke against antisemitism and the violations of the Nazis towards the Church.
On October 14 1933, Edith Stein joined the Monastery St. Maria vom Frieden of the Discalced Carmelites in Cologne and during her investiture on April 15 1934, she took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Teresia Benedicta a Cruce).
Because of the growing hostilities of the Nazi regime, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and her sister Rosa were moved to another monastery of the Discalced Carmelites in Echt, Netherlands. In Echt, she began teaching philosophy and Latin to students and fellow nuns.
All along before the Nazis captured the Netherlands, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross knew that she would not survive the Nazi atrocities and she had offered herself as a sacrifice of atonement for true peace to the heart of Jesus. After May 1940, after the Netherlands was invaded by the Nazis, she would confine herself in a cold place with hunger so as to prepare her body for the torture in the concentration camps.
On July 20 1942, the Dutch Bishops made a public statement in churches all over the country condemning the racism by the Nazis. This made the Nazi regime in the Netherlands ordered the arrest of 243 baptized Jews and all other Jewish converts who had been spared in an earlier operation. On August 2 1942, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was arrested along with her sister Rosa and taken to Amersfoort and Westerbork concentration camps before being deported to Auschwitz.
At Westerbork, a Dutch official saw how pious and calm St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was and offered to help her escape but she refused. She said she wanted to share in the fate of her fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Unfortunately, on August 9 1942, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, her sister and many more Jews were killed in the gas chambers in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Birth
Edith Stein was born on October 12 1891 in Breslau (Wroclaw), Poland. She was the last born in a family of 11 children.
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Death
On August 9 1942, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was killed in the gas chambers in the Auschwitz concentration camp and died as a martyr.
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Cologne, Germany on May 1 1987.
Although there were some disagreements about whether she died as a martyr because of her Christian faith or just died because she was a Jew, the Catholic Church clarified that the Nazi regime singled her out because she was very outspoken against the regime’s racism and of the moral stance of the Church and therefore she is a true martyr.
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 11 1998 in Rome, Italy
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is the Patron Saint of
- World Youth Day
- Loss of parents
- Co-Patron Saint of Europe (together with Cyril and Methodius, Catherine of Siena, Benedict of Nursia and Bridget of Sweden.
- Converts to Christianity
- Converted Jews
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Feast Day
Her feast day is celebrated on August 9 every year in the Catholic Church.
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Miracle
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was canonized after this miracle was attributed to her intercession. There was a young girl named Benedicta McCarthy who had ingested a large amount of paracetamol that caused hepatic necrosis. The girl was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a pediatric specialist named Ronald Kleinman attended to her.
While still lying on the hospital bed, critically ill, a priest, the girl’s father named Emmanuel Charles McCarthy and several relatives prayed to St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross to intercede to God for Benedicta McCarthy’s healing. After a short time, while still in the intensive care unit, the girl sat up completely healthy to the amazement of the nurses who were taking care of her.
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