Today is the feast of Saint Edith Stein, also known by her religious name as a Carmelite nun, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
Edith was born to a Jewish family in Breslau in 1891. Through her passionate study of philosophy, she searched after truth. She declared that she had found the truth after reading the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) in a single sitting.
In 1922 Edith was baptised a Catholic and continued her work as a philosopher and academic. In 1933 she entered the Carmel of Cologne to live as a nun.
Like many of her fellow Jews, Edith suffered during the Nazi persecution of World War II. She was gassed and cremated at Auschwitz concentration camp on 9th August 1942, dying both as a Jewish woman and a martyr for the Christian faith, having offered her holocaust for the people of Israel.
A woman of singular intelligence and learning, Edith left behind a body of writing notable for its doctrinal richness and profound spirituality.
She was declared one of the six co-patron saints of Europe by Pope Saint John Paul II.
This beautiful icon of Saint Edith is revered at the National Shrine of Saint Jude in Faversham, England. Written by Sister Petra Clare, the icon was installed in 2008. It shows Edith in her Carmelite habit, on which has been sewn the Star of David, as Jews were required by the Nazis to wear. She holds the image of Jesus' crucifixion drawn by Saint John of the Cross, as a reminder of her profound 'science of the cross'. Read more, here.
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