Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

Edith Stein was born October 12, 1891 and was the youngest of a large Jewish family in Breslau, Germany. She graduated with a doctorate in philosophy from University of Freiburg. Edith had a brilliant mind.

After reading the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila, she converted to Catholicism. She was baptized on New Year's Day, 1922.

After her conversion, Edith spent her days teaching, lecturing, writing and translating, and she soon became known as a philosopher and author. The Nazi persecution of the Jews brought to a close her public activities.

She entered the Discalced Carmelie Nuns cloistered community at Cologne-Lindenthal on October 14, 1933. The following April, Easter Sunday, April 21, 1935, she made her Profession of Vows taking the name "Teresia Benedicta ac Cruce".

When the Jewish persecution increased in violence, Sister Teresa Benedicta asked to transfer to another monastery. On the night of December 31, 1938, she secretly crossed the border into Holland and entered the Carmel of Echt. There she wrote her last work, The Science of the Cross.

The Nazis invaded Holland and when the Dutch bishops issued a pastoral letter protesting the deportation of the Jews and the removal of Jewish children from the Catholic school system, the Nazis arrested all Catholics of Jewish extraction in Holland. Edith was taken from the Echt Carmel on August 2, 1942, and transported by cattle train to the death camp of Auschwitz. She died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942. Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was canonized on October 11, 1998. Her feast day is August 9th.

Saint Edith Stein, holy martyr, philosopher of truth, defender of the human person against the evils of this age enlighten our minds, illuminate our hearts, fill our lives with the passion of your love for the Cross. Amen.

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