Today the Church commemorates the life and death of Edith Stein(St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross).
She hardly seemed Catholic-saint material. As a precocious Jewish teen she rejected God at the turn of this century in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland). As a child Edith was, at heart, a radical, one who goes to the radix, the roots. When she became convinced of the truth of an idea, her life fell into place around it
Born in 1891, Edith had a thirst for knowledge and by the outbreak of World War I had studied philology and philosophy. Her quest for truth lead to her conversion and she was baptized in 1922, the year I was born.
After the war, she resumed her higher studies at the University of Freiburg and was awarded her doctorate in philosophy Suma Cum Laude. She later became the assistant and collaborator of Professor Husserl, the famous founder of phenomenology, who greatly appreciated her brilliant mind
After her conversion, Edith spent her days teaching, lecturing, writing and translating, and she soon became known as a celebrated philosopher and author, but her own great longing was for the solitude and contemplation of Carmel, in which she could offer herself to God for her people.
She joined the Carmelite cloistered nuns in Cologne, but asked to transfer to Holland, when she realized that,as a Jew, she was putting her convent in danger of the Nazi extermination program. When the Nazis invaded Holland she was taken by cattle train to the extermination camp in Auschwitz and gassed on 9 August 1942.
John Paul II cannonized her saint and martyr, nine years ago.