Saint Edith Stein

I have to admit until a few days ago I had never heard of Saint Edith Stein. At least I don’t recall ever hearing her name before.

My church had a viewing this week of Word on Fire’s Catholicism Series Episode VIII “A VAST COMPANY OF WITNESSES: THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS”. The film is so well done and I learned so much about Saints and why they matter in our Catholic Faith.

Well known saints such as Mother Theresa of Calcutta and St. Therese of Lisieux are featured in the video but what I enjoyed most was learning about Saint Edith Stein.

My first thought was “Stein, that sounds like a Jewish name, it will be interesting to learn how she became a Saint”. Well sadly it is because she was Jewish and became a Catholic later that she was persecuted by the Nazi’s in World War II.

Edith Stein was born in Poland on October 12, 1891. It was while visiting a widowed friend that she was touched by the power of the Cross. She was baptized at the Cathedral Church in Cologne, Germany in 1922. Edith later joined the Carmelite convent in Cologne and was later known as Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

She wrote “”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.”

When the Nazis conquered Holland, Edith was arrested, along with her sister Rose, was sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Edith died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1942 at the age of fifty-one.

In 1987, she was beatified in the Cologne cathedral by Pope John Paul II. It was from the unspeakable human suffering caused by the Nazis during the 1930’s and 1940’s where blossomed the beautiful life of dedication, consecration, prayer, fasting, and penance of Saint Teresa. She was canonized on October 11, 1998.

I’m so thankful that I was able to attend the viewing of this movie and plan to see more if not all of them over the next few months. See the film has inspired me to learn more about the Saints which in turn helps me to learn more, so much more about our rich Catholic faith.

Have you seen the “Catholicism Project”? Let me know what you thought of it. Do you have a favorite Saint? I’d love to hear your story.