Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

Edith Stein was born in 1891 in Wroclaw (then in Germany and today in Poland) to a Jewish family. At age 16 she moved to Hamburg, where she studied Literature and Philosophy and became an atheist. She first enrolled at university in Wroclaw and then, attracted by Edmund Husserl’s theories, she moved to Göttingen to follow his lessons. After the World War I she graduated and became Husserl’s assistant. She became involved in politics, joining the struggle for women’s right to vote. She converted to Catholicism and was baptized in 1922. Having become a lecturer at the Institute of Scientific Pedagogy in Münster, in 1933 the racial laws forced her to resign. The year after she entered the Carmelite monastery in Cologne taking the name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Here she wrote the book Finite and Eternal Being. On 26th July 1942, Hitler reacted to the Dutch bishops’ condemnation of Nazism by ordering the arrest of all Jews, including converts. Edith and her sister Rose were deported to Auschwitz, where they were killed on 9 August 1942. St John Paul II proclaimed her blessed in 1987, a saint in 1998.