Saint of the Week:
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
“The world doesn't need what women have, it needs what women are.”
FEAST DAY: August 9
FUN FACTS: Her birth name is Edith Stein; Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is the religious name she received when she became a Carmelite nun
Born in 1891 to a devout Jewish family in Germany, Edith Stein was accustomed to praying at home and attending religious services with her parents and six older siblings. However, at the age of 13, she gave up believing in God. She became fascinated in phenomenology, and pursued a doctorate degree in philosophy. It wasn’t until 1922 when she read the autobiography of St. Teresa of Ávila that she, at last, found the truth she had been looking for. She was so captivated by this book that she finished it in one night, then bought a book on Catholic Catechism the next day and read it. She then converted to Catholicism, and discerned to become a Carmelite nun. Worried of how her Jewish mother will react to the news, she took her time discerning. Finally, in 1934, she entered the convent and became a Carmelite.
In 1938, Edith and her sister Rosa, who had also become Catholic, fled to Holland because the persecution of Jews in Germany made it so dangerous for the sisters to stay in the convent. Four years later, Holland was occupied by the Nazis, and Edith and Rosa were taken and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz in Poland where they died a few days later in a gas chamber.
The life of Edith Stein is inspiring, but it’s her bold and insightful views on women and women’s vocations that make her a fitting saint for modern times. In her written works, she affirms motherhood as an irreplaceable and noble vocation while also emphasizing the endless list of professions available to woman in which her soul finds its true dignity and purpose.