- Category : Religion-Saint-Stigmatist
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX The Clarion 2
Edith Stein, also Saint Teresia Benedicta of the Cross, informally also known as Saint Edith Stein (born: October 12, 1891 – died: August 9, 1942), was a German Roman Catholic philosopher and nun, regarded as a martyr and saint of the Roman Catholic Church. Born into an observant Jewish family but an atheist by her teenage years, she was baptized on January 1, 1922 into the Roman Catholic Church.
Although Edith Stein had wished to enter Carmel since 1922, she was deterred from this by her spiritual leaders, canon Joseph Schwind and archabbot Raphael Walzer OSB who wished her to act in the world as a teacher and speaker for the education of women. Having been forced to quit her teaching position as a result of the Aryan Clause, which was central to the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, she entered the Discalced Carmelite Order Monastery of Cologne in October 1933, taking the name Teresia Benedicta of the Cross. She received the habit of the Discalced Carmelites as a novice in April, 1934. Although she moved from Germany to the Netherlands to avoid Nazi persecution, in 1942 she was arrested and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where she died in the gas chamber. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1998.
Stein is one of the six patron saints of Europe, together with Saint Benedict of Nursia, Saints Cyril and Methodius, Saint Bridget of Sweden and Saint Catherine of Siena.
Stein was born in Breslau, in the German Empire's Prussian Province of Silesia, into an observant Jewish family. Born on October 12, 1891, she was a very gifted child who enjoyed learning. She greatly admired her mother's strong faith. By her teenage years, however, Edith had become an atheist.
In 1916 Stein received a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Göttingen with a dissertation under Edmund Husserl, Zum Problem der Einfühlung (On the Problem of Empathy). She then became a member of the faculty in Freiburg. In the previous year she had worked with Martin Heidegger in editing Husserl's papers for publication, Heidegger being appointed similarly as a teaching assistant to Husserl at Freiburg in October 1916. But because she was a woman Husserl did not support her submission to the University of Freiburg of her habilitational thesis (a prerequisite for an academic chair) and her other thesis ("Psychische Kausalität" [Psychic Causality] at the University of Göttingen in 1919) was likewise rejected.
While Stein had earlier contacts with the Roman Catholicism, it was her reading of the autobiography of the mystic St. Teresa of Ávila during summer holidays in Bergzabern in 1921 that caused her conversion. Baptized on January 1, 1922, she gave up her assistantship with Husserl to teach at the Dominican nuns' schools school in Speyer from 1923 to 1931. While there, she translated Thomas Aquinas' De Veritate (On Truth) into German and familiarized herself with Roman Catholic philosophy in general and tried to bridge the phenomenology of her former teacher Husserl to Thomism. She visited Husserl and Heidegger at Freiburg in April 1929, in the same month that Heidegger gave a speech to Husserl on his 70th birthday. In 1932 she became a lecturer at the Institute for Pedagogy at Münster, but antisemitic legislation passed by the Nazi government forced her to resign the post in 1933. In a letter to Pope Pius XI, she denounced the Nazi regime and asked the Pope to openly denounce the regime "to put a stop to this abuse of Christ's name."
“As a child of the Jewish people who, by the grace of God, for the past eleven years has also been a child of the Catholic Church, I dare to speak to the Father of Christianity about that which oppresses millions of Germans. For weeks we have seen deeds perpetrated in Germany which mock any sense of justice and humanity, not to mention love of neighbor. For years the leaders of National Socialism have been preaching hatred of the Jews...But the responsibility must fall, after all, on those who brought them to this point and it also falls on those who keep silent in the face of such happenings.
Everything that happened and continues to happen on a daily basis originates with a government that calls itself 'Christian.' For weeks not only Jews but also thousands of faithful Catholics in Germany, and, I believe, all over the world, have been waiting and hoping for the Church of Christ to raise its voice to put a stop to this abuse of Christ’s name. —Edith Stein, Letter to Pope Pius XI
Stein's letter received no answer, and it is not known for sure whether Pius XI ever even read it. However, in 1937, Pope Pius XI issued an encyclical written in German, Mit brennender Sorge (With Burning Anxiety), in which he criticized Nazism, listed breaches of the Concordat signed between Germany and the Church in 1933, and condemned antisemitism.
She entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery St. Maria vom Frieden (Our Lady of Peace) at Cologne in 1933 and took the name Teresia Benedicta a cruce (Teresia Benedicta of the Cross). There she wrote her metaphysical book Endliches und ewiges Sein, (Finite and Eternal Being) which tries to combine the philosophies of Aquinas and Husserl.
To avoid the growing Nazi threat, her order transferred Stein to the Carmelite monastery at Echt in the Netherlands. There she wrote Studie über Joannes a Cruce: Kreuzeswissenschaft (The Science of the Cross: Studies on John of the Cross). Her testament of June 6, 1939 states, "I beg the Lord to take my life and my death … for all concerns of the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary and the holy church, especially for the preservation of our holy order, in particular the Carmelite monasteries of Cologne and Echt, as atonement for the unbelief of the Jewish People and that the Lord will be received by his own people and his kingdom shall come in glory, for the salvation of Germany and the peace of the world, at last for my loved ones, living or dead, and for all God gave to me: that none of them shall go astray."
However, Stein was not safe in the Netherlands—the Dutch Bishops' Conference had a public statement read in all the churches of the country on July 20, 1942, condemning Nazi racism. In a retaliatory response on July 26, 1942, the Reichskommissar of the Netherlands, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, ordered the arrest of all Jewish converts, who had previously been spared. Stein and her sister Rosa, also a convert, were captured. On 7 August, early in the morning, 987 Jews were deported to Auschwitz. It was probably on 9 August that Sister Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, her sister, and many other of her people were gassed on August 9, 1942.
Stein was beatified as a martyr on May 1, 1987, in Cologne, Germany by Pope John Paul II and then canonized by him 11 years later on October 11, 1998. The miracle which was the basis for her canonization was the cure of Teresa Benedicta McCarthy, a little girl who had swallowed a large amount of paracetamol (acetaminophen), which causes hepatic necrosis. Her father, Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, a Melkite Catholic, immediately rounded up relatives and prayed for Stein's intercession. Shortly thereafter the nurses in the intensive care unit saw her sit up completely healthy. Dr. Ronald Kleinman, a pediatric specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston who treated Teresa Benedicta, testified about her recovery to Church tribunals, stating "I was willing to say that it was miraculous." Teresa Benedicta would later attend Stein's canonization ceremony in the Vatican.
Today, there are many schools named in tribute to Stein, for example in Darmstadt, Germany, Hengelo, the Netherlands, and Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Also named for her are a women's dormitory at the University of Tübingen and a classroom building at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.
The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre published a book in 2006 titled, Edith Stein: A Philosophical Prologue, 1913-1922, in which he contrasted Stein's living out of her own personal philosophy with Martin Heidegger, whose actions during the Nazi era according to MacIntyre suggested a "bifurcation of personality."
In 2009, her bust was introduced to the Walhalla temple near Regensburg.
The beatification of Stein as a martyr generated criticism and created some controversy. Critics argued that Stein was killed because she was Jewish by birth, rather than for her later Christian faith, and that, in the words of Daniel Polish, it seemed to "carry the tacit message encouraging conversionary activities" because "official discussion of the beatification seemed to make a point of conjoining Stein's Catholic faith with her death with 'fellow Jews' in Auschwitz". The position of the Roman Catholic Church is that Stein also died because of the Dutch episcopacy's public condemnation of Nazi racism in 1942; in other words, that she died for the sake of the moral position of the Church, and is thus a true martyr.