Sainte Thérèse-Bénédicte de la Croix
(Edith Stein, 1891-1942, a woman devoted to peace)
Born and educated to Judaism, Edith Stein was a philosophy professor at Wroclaw University (Breslau) in Germany. After becoming atheist, she gradually turns to Christianity. Baptized in 1922, she became a Carmelite in Cologne in 1934 without ever renouncing her Jewish cultural and religious roots, still considering herself as belonging to the Jewish people.
In the years before her entering the monastery, she played an important role while devoting a long time to some initiatives (conferences, books, petitions) aiming at the acknowledgement of women’s rights, rights which belong to any human being. Edith Stein was very early marked by her feminine condition.
She was the first woman to get a PhD in philosophy in Germany and she personally committed herself to defend the possibility for women to go to University and to teach there as well despite the important reluctance voiced in the early 20th century.
At the time of the Nazi invasion along with the Jewish persecution, she goes to the Netherland in the carmel of Echt. Arrested on August 2, 1942 by the SS, she is deported and dies “for her folk” in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.
Canonized in 1998, Edith Stein is proclaimed co-patron of Europe by Jean-Paul II on October 1st , 1999.
Extract from Jean-Paul II’s sermon, on October 1st 1999 :
“To proclaim today Edith Stern co-patron of Europe means to unfold on the horizon of the old continent a standard of respect, tolerance, welcome, which invites men and women to understand and accept each other beyond the diversities of race, culture and religion so as to form a truly fraternal society”.