This post is in honor of the Feast Day of Edith Stein, or St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, patron Saint of Europe, the loss of parents, martyrs, and Jewish converts to Catholicism.
Stein was born into a prominent Jewish family Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland). She abandoned her Jewish faith in her teens and became fascinated by the philosophical approach of phenomology while studying at the University of Göttingen. She earned her doctorate in philosophy in 1916, and went on to teach as a university teacher.
She was captivated by the autobiography of Teresa of Avila, which led to her baptism in 1922. Throughout her life, however, she continued to honor her Jewish heritage. After her conversion and baptism she went to teach at a Dominican school in Speyer. She also held a position as a lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich; however, this came to an end under pressure from the Nazi party.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, after an icon. From the 2016 series.
“Anyone who seeks truth seeks God, whether or not he realizes it.”
– St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
By 1934, Stein had joined the Carmelite order, taking
the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross after Teresa of Avila. In 1938 she moved to a Carmelite monastery in the Netherlands. When the Nazis occupied the Netherlands in 1940, the Dutch bishops publicly denounced their presence, ideology, and actions. In retaliation, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had converted to Christianity.
Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, who was also Catholic, died in Auschwitz in a gas chamber on August 9th, 1942. A prolific author, Teresa’s complete writings fill 17 volumes. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987 and canonized in 1999.
Citing this page:
Solomon, Alana. “A Single Prayer.” Ortolana Studio & Press. Ortolana Studio & Press, 9 Aug. 2017.