St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942)
Feast Day: August 9
Canonization: October 11, 1998
Patron of Europe, Converted Jews, Martyrs, Loss of Parents, World Youth Day
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was born as Edith Stein into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland). She stopped believing in God when she was 14 and instead became a learned philosopher, earning her doctorate in 1916.
Her spiritual journey beckoned, however, when she read the autobiography and writings of St. Teresa of Avila. Stein was thus drawn to the Catholic faith and baptized in 1922.
In 1934, Stein received the habit of the Discalced Carmelite and took the religious name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. In 1938, amid the growing Nazi threat in Germany, Teresa and her sister, Rosa (who by then was also a convert and an extern sister), were sent to a Carmelite monastery in the Netherlands for safety.
On August 2, 1942, the Nazis arrested Teresa and Rosa, and sent them to the Auschwitz concentration camp in southern Poland, where they were gassed to death on August 9. Pope St. John Paul II beatified Teresa in 1987 and canonized her 11 years later.