Edith Stein was born in Breslau, Germany, (now Wroclaw, Poland) on 12 October 1891, the youngest of eleven children of a devout Jewish family. She died in the Auschwitz gas chamber on 9 August 1942, having been sent to the death camp when she refused to deny her Jewish heritage.
In 1916 she completed her doctoral dissertation in philosophy at the University of Gottingen, under the mentorship of the famed founder of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl. On January 1, 1922, Edith Stein was baptized Catholic, taking the name Teresa.
On 14 October 1933, at age 42, Edith Stein entered the Carmelite Convent in Cologne and took the religious name, Teresa Benedicta a Cruce — Teresa, Blessed of the Cross — reflecting her special devotion to the Passion of Christ, Teresa of Avila, and John of the Cross.
In 1933, she sought help from the Vatican for her Jewish community. Her life and writings focused on the mystery of joy in suffering, of victory in failure, and of dying and rising with Christ.
In July of 1942, Sister Teresa, along with her sister Rosa, were sent to the concentration camp at Theresianstadt, Germany, where she died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz on 9 August 1942. She was proclaimed a saint on 11 October 1998 by Pope John Paul II:
For the honor of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the fostering of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayers for the divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of our brother bishops, we declare and define that Bl. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, is a saint and we enroll her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated in the whole Church as one of the saints. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
From Johnnette Benkovic’s Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day
“When night comes, and retrospect shows that everything was patchwork and much that one had planned left undone, when so many things rouse shame and regret, then take all as is, lay it in God’s hands, and offer it up to Him. In this way we will be able to rest in Him, actually to rest and to begin the new day like a new life.”— St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, “Verses for a Pentecost Novena”
Thank you, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross! What may I now lay in God’s hands and offer up to Him, that I might “rest and begin the new day like a new life”?
Other Saints We Remember Today
- Vigil of St. Lawrence
- St. Romanus (258), Martyr, Roman soldier converted by St. Lawrence
- St. Marcellinus, Priest, and St. Peter, Exorcist (304), Martyrs