Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). Patron saint of Europe.
“Let us open ourselves up to the message brought to us by this woman so full of the spirit and of knowledge, this woman who understood that the climax of all wisdom is the knowledge of the Cross”
John Paul II, Cologne, 1 May 1987
Edith Stein was born in Wrocław (then Breslau, Germany) in 1891, the youngest of ten children, into an orthodox Jewish family. She was a German philosopher and studied in Breslau, Göttingen (where she was a student of Edmund Husserl, the famous philosopher and father of phenomenology) and Freiburg. After a period of atheism, she converted to Catholicism in 1921, and in 1934 entered a congregation of Discalced Carmelite Sisters, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She was murdered in the gas chamber in Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on 9 August 1942.
Edith Stein was canonised by Pope John Paul II in 1998. He referred to her as: “a daughter of Israel who during the Nazi persecutions was united with the faith and love of the Crucified Lord, Jesus Christ, as a Catholic, and with her own people as a Jew”.
Today the Steins’ former family home in Wrocław is home to the Edith Stein Society. In the nearby Church of St Michael there is a chapel under her invocation, where her relics have been deposited. In her parents’ home town of Lubliniec, a small town near Wrocław, there is a museum about her and a parish also under her invocation.