Crucial

Edith Stein

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“Things were in God’s plan which I had not planned at all. I am coming to the living faith and conviction that – from God’s point of view – there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God’s divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God’s all-seeing eyes.” [1]

St. Teresa Benedicta (1891-1942), began life as Edith Stein, the child of Jewish parents. By the time she was a teenager, though, she identified as an atheist. She earned a doctorate in philosophy, summa cum laude, and her thesis “The Problem with Empathy” earned her great renown. Later, while trying to gain a professorship, a near-impossible feat for women of the day, St. Teresa Benedicta had a conversion experience. St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography inspired her, and in 1922 she was baptized. She continued academic life and translated works of Aquinas and Newman. In 1934, she professed in the Carmelite Order. Sadly, her path took an abrupt turn. As World War II engulfed Europe, St. Teresa’s Jewish heritage caused her to be arrested and placed in Auschwitz, where she was killed. She is remembered as a `daughter of Israel,’ who was faithful to both her Jewish heritage and her Christian beliefs. [2]

Written by Sarah Ciotti Reviewed by Fr. Hugh Feiss, OSB, STD [1] Teresa Benedict of the Cross, Edith Stein, Vatican News Services, October 11, 1998. [2] Ibid.

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