Edith Stein


†    Born in Breslau to a Jewish family, the youngest of eleven children.

†    Quiet and thoughtful, at a young age she decided she wanted to become an atheist in 1904.

†    When she went to the University of Göttingen, she studied philosophy, earning her doctorate in 1916. She concentrated her studies on theories of women, empathy, human sexuality, relationships, and phenomenology (the philosophy of perception). She was able to translate works from Greek, Latin, English, and French.

†    She arose as one of Europe’s brightest philosophers and was sought after by many universities to lecture on philosophy.

†    As a traveling lecturer and professor of philosophy, she endeavored to expand her studies in phenomenology using Thomistic thought (which was begun by St. Thomas Aquinas). This would be her first contemplation with Christian thought.

†    As time went by, she found a copy of an autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila (one of the doctors of the Church) and was deeply converted, so much so that she wanted to become a vowed discalced Carmelite nun like St. Teresa. She was baptized in 1922.However, since her mother was so shocked with her conversion, Edith decided to wait on studying to be a Carmelite.

†    In 1932, she left the university to work as a teacher in a Dominican school. She also lectured at the Educational Institute in Munichbut had to resign because the Nazi tensions were rising.

†    In 1934, she finally became a nun with the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

†    In 1938, she had to be smuggled to the Netherlands to hide from the Nazis, but in 1940 they overtook that country as well.

†    In 1942, she was arrested for being a non-Aryan Catholic and for being of Jewish descent.

†    That same year she died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz.

†     John Paul II canonized her as a martyr and mystic, having read and admired many of her works to understand women, their dignity and vocation.

Info cited under “Authentic Femininity, Lived” tab

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