Today is the Feast Day of St Theresa Benedicta Of The Cross, born Edith Stein. She was born in Prussia in 1891, one of eleven children in an observant Jewish family.
Possessing a keen intellect, she studied philosophy under Heidegger and Husserl. She had become atheist, but she admired the way her Catholic friends practiced their faith. Reading the autobiography of St Theresa of Avila brought about her conversion to the Catholic Faith. Later she would become a Carmelite nun and took the name Theresa Benedicta of The Cross. She became a cloistered contemplative nun, devoted to a life of prayer.
Her life paralleled the rise to power of the Nazis. Nazi anti-Semitism was based on their specious “racial theory”. So having Jewish “blood” was tantamount to a death sentence. The Carmelite order transferred her to The Netherlands, but she was ultimately taken by the Nazis from the convent, sent to Auschwitz, and murdered in the gas chamber, along with her sister Rose, also a convert and a Carmelite nun. Today is the seventy-seventh anniversary of their martyrdom.
Fittingly St Edith Stein is the Patroness of Europe. Europe today, like America, suffers a profound crisis of Faith, buffeted by Islamic immigration on the one hand and secular agnosticism on the other. The challenge for European Catholics is to witness the Faith, always with Love, for the Salvation of souls. What better Patroness to ask for intercessory prayer.
St Theresa Benedicta, pray for us.