St. Teresa Benedicta, Jewish convert and martyr, celebrated Aug. 9
On Aug. 9 the Church remembers St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, also known as Edith Stein. St. Teresa converted from Judaism to Catholicism in the course of her work as a philosopher, and later entered the Carmelite Order. She died in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in 1942.
Edith Stein was born on Oct. 12, 1891 – a date that coincided with her family's celebration of Yom Kippur, the Jewish "day of atonement." Edith's father died when she was just 2 years old, and she gave up the practice of her Jewish faith as an adolescent.
As a young woman with profound intellectual gifts, Edith gravitated toward the study of philosophy and became a pupil of the renowned professor Edmund Husserl in 1913. Through her studies, the non-religious Edith met several Christians whose intellectual and spiritual lives she admired.
After earning her degree with the highest honors from Gottingen University in 1915, she served as a nurse in an Austrian field hospital during World War I. She returned to academic work in 1916, earning her doctorate after writing a highly-regarded thesis on the phenomenon of empathy. She remained interested in the idea of religious commitment, but had not yet made such a commitment herself.
In 1921, while visiting friends, Edith spent an entire night reading the autobiography of the 16th century Carmelite nun St. Teresa of Avila. "When I had finished the book," she later recalled, "I said to myself: This is the truth." She was baptized into the Catholic Church on the first day of January, 1922.
Edith intended to join the Carmelites immediately after her conversion, but would ultimately have to wait another 11 years before taking this step. Instead, she taught at a Dominican school and gave numerous public lectures on women's issues. She spent 1931 writing a study of St. Thomas Aquinas and took a university teaching position in 1932.
In 1933, the rise of Nazism, combined with Edith's Jewish ethnicity, put an end to her teaching career. After a painful parting with her mother, who did not understand her Christian conversion, she entered a Carmelite convent in 1934, taking the name Teresia Benedicta ac Cruce" ("Teresa Benedicta of the Cross") as a symbol of her acceptance of suffering.
"I felt," she wrote, "that those who understood the Cross of Christ should take it upon themselves on everybody's behalf." She saw it as her vocation "to intercede with God for everyone," but she prayed especially for the Jews of Germany whose tragic fate was becoming clear.
"I ask the Lord to accept my life and my death," she wrote in 1939, "so that the Lord will be accepted by His people and that His kingdom may come in glory, for the salvation of Germany and the peace of the world."
After completing her final work, a study of St. John of the Cross entitled "The Science of the Cross," Teresa Benedicta was arrested along with her sister Rosa (who had also become a Catholic), and the members of her religious community, on Aug. 7, 1942. The arrests came in retaliation against a protest letter by the Dutch bishops, decrying the Nazi treatment of Jews. Her last recorded words were to her sister: "Come, let us go for our people."
Two days later she was killed in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. Blessed John Paul II canonized her in 1998 and proclaimed her a co-patroness of Europe the next year.
—Benjamin Mann, Catholic News Agency
New deacon welcomed at St John NeumannCHARLOTTE — Deacon Joseph Denzler has been granted faculties by Bishop Peter J. Jugis and has been assigned to St John Neumann Parish in Charlotte. Deacon Denzler was ordained for the diocese of Brooklyn in New York on May 23, 2009. A native...
CRS CEO Woo visits Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in High PointHIGH POINT — "The work we do is in your name," Dr. Carolyn Woo told parishioners at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in High Point May 20. "Your presence is what we bring into the world." The special visit from the president and CEO of Catholic...
College students spend weekend 'awakening' their faithKING — A group of Catholic students from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill recently held their first Awakening Retreat at Camp Hanes in King. Aided by Raleigh's Catholic Campus Ministries and...
Postcard from Kingston: My impressions of our parish mission trip to JamaicaKINGSTON, Jamaica — I was feeding a young boy named Paul, who couldn't speak or use his limbs. He was sitting in a chair and I was in a child's chair beside him. As I began to feed him I could see his eyes following me, and it was at that...
'Yankee' turned Southern pastor reflects on 60 years as a priestALLEGANY, N.Y. — Sixty years ago on May 14, 1953, Monsignor Thomas Walsh was ordained to the priesthood at Our Lady of Grace Church in Greensboro. Just a few short years before, Monsignor Walsh didn't even know anything about North Carolina....
Nuns get on the bus for immigration reformCHARLOTTE — The nationwide "Nuns on the Bus" campaign by members of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby led by Sister Simone Campbell, S.S.S., executive director, will stop in Charlotte Friday, May 31, to highlight the urgent need for...
Military Mass planned for July 7CHARLOTTE — Bishop Peter J. Jugis will celebrate a Mass for U.S. military personnel at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, July 7, at St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte. The Mass and rosary (to be recited at 3 p.m.) will be offered for all military personnel...
Catholic Charities celebrates new nameCHARLOTTE — Dr. Gerard Carter, executive director of Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte, formally Catholic Social Services, introduced the agency's new name and logo at an unveiling ceremony May 17 at the Pastoral Center in Charlotte. Forty...
Belmont parish hosts community shredding eventBELMONT — A Community Shredding Fundraising Event was held May 4, at Queen of the Apostles Church in Belmont. According to event organizer, parishioner George Burazer, the event had several aims: to provide people with a convenient way to...
Sunshine, smiles light up Belmont Abbey College graduationSavannah bishop encourages grads to be excited about their faith BELMONT — At 8:55 on May 11, their last morning as students of the Benedictine-run Belmont Abbey College, 364 graduates gathered one last time to join the monks for prayer....
Dozens of youth confirmed at St. Ann ChurchCHARLOTTE — Bishop Peter Jugis confirmed 28 youth from St. Ann Church on May 13 at 7 pm. He spoke to the confirmands in his homily, telling them, "God the Father has chosen you this evening to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in...
New Redemptorist parochial vicar joins Concord, Kannapolis parishesCONCORD — Redemptorist Father Aldrin Christopher Roswell Nunes has been appointed parochial vicar at St. James the Greater Church in Concord, effective April 23, Bishop Peter J. Jugis recently announced. Father Nunes will serve both St. James...
Renewing roots in charityLearn about the new Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Since 2005 we have celebrated Catholic Social Services Week. Each year this week provides an opportunity for our parishioners to become more...
Charlotte seminarians graduate from Pontifical College JosephinumCOLUMBUS, Ohio — The second Saturday of May was a joyful day at the Pontifical College Josephinum, as the only pontifical seminary outside of Italy held its 114th baccalaureate Mass and commencement exercises. Diocese of Charlotte seminarians...
MOST POPULAR STORIES
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy