Edith Stein (1891-1942)
Edith Stein is one of the 20th century’s most inspiring converts and saints . . .
Feast Day: August 9
Canonized: October 11, 1998
Born in Breslau, Germany, to a prominent Jewish family, Edith Stein abandoned Judaism around 1904 and became a self-proclaimed atheist. Her brilliant intellect was seeking truth. She earned a doctorate in 1916 and emerged as one of Europe’s brightest philosophical minds.
Influenced by St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Teresa of Ávila, she was baptized in 1922 and entered the Carmelite Order in 1934, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Owing to Nazi oppression, she was sent out of Germany to the Netherlands in 1938. In 1942, after the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, the Gestapo arrested her for being a non-Aryan Catholic. She was martyred at Auschwitz.
Pope John Paul II named her a co-patroness of Europe in 1999 with St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Catherine of Siena. At her canonization, he declared: “A young woman in search of the truth has become a saint and a martyr through the silent workings of divine grace: Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, who from heaven repeats to us all the words that marked her life: ‘Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’”
This column is written for Legatus magazine by Dr. Matthew Bunson, senior fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and author of “John Paul II’s Book of Saints.”