Born in 1891 in Breslau, Poland, Edith Stein was the youngest child of a large Jewish family. She was an outstanding student and was well versed in Philosophy, with particular interest in Phenomenology. She received a Doctorate in 1916 and was regarded as one of Europe’s brightest young philosophers.
Eventually, Edith became interested in the Catholic faith and began examining Phenomenology from a Thomistic perspective. Greatly influenced by the Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, she was converted and received Baptism on January 1, 1922, at the cathedral church in Cologne, Germany.
Edith gave up a University position and went to teach in the Dominican school at Speyer. In 1934, she entered the Carmelite Order at Cologne and took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. There she completed a synthesis of Thomist Philosophy and modern thought entitled, Finite and Eternal Being.
Four years later, because of the ramification of politics in Germany, Teresa was sent to Echt, Holland. There she wrote Science of the Cross, the life of St. John of the Cross from a phenomenological perspective.
When the Nazis conquered Holland, Teresa was arrested and, with her sister Rose (also a convert), was sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. She was killed in the gas chambers of the camp on August 9 or 10, 1942.
Teresa was beatified in 1987 at the Cologne cathedral by Pope John Paul II and canonized on October 11, 1998, by the same Pontiff.
PRAYER: God of our fathers, You led St. Teresa Benedicta, Your Martyr, to acknowledge Your Crucified Son and to intimate Him even in death. Grant, through her intercession, that all people may come to know Christ the Savior and through Him attain Your eternal vision. Amen.