Flora Cantábrica

Matias Mayor

Edith Stein.English 1,31,12,21

Edith Stein


Edith Stein, religious name Teresa Benedicta de la Cruz (in Latin, Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, in German, Teresia Benedicta vom Kreuz, Wroclaw, German Empire, October 12, 1891-Auschwitz, August 9, 1942), was a philosopher, mystic, discalced Carmelite nun, martyr and German saint of Jewish origin.


She was born into a Jewish family and went through a stage of atheism. Philosophy student, she was the first woman to present a thesis in this discipline in Germany. She continued her career as she worked as a collaborator with the German philosopher Edmund Husserl, founder of phenomenology. A long intellectual and spiritual evolution led her to Catholicism, to which she converted in 1921. She taught and lectured in Germany, developed a theology of women and an analysis of the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas and of phenomenology.


The national-socialist regime prohibited him from teaching. Ella edith Stein she decided to enter the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, where she took her habits under the name Teresa Benedicta de la Cruz. She was detained by the Gestapo, she was deported on August 2, 1942 and interned in the Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz, in occupied Polish territory, where she would be assassinated seven days later.


She was beatified in 1987 and canonized on October 11, 1998 by Pope John Paul II.1 This pontiff also named her co-patron of Europe on October 1, 1999 at the opening of the synod of bishops called the Second Special Assembly for Europe, together with Brígida of Sweden and Catherine of Siena, 2 thus joining the already declared co-patrons Benedict of Nursia, Cyril and Methodius. Her liturgical feast is celebrated on August 9



Edith Stein (ca. 1913-1914) during her period as a student in Wroclaw Edith Stein’s family home, located at 38 Nowowiejska Street (formerly Michaelisstraße), Wroclaw, Poland Childhood and early studies [edit] Her father, Siegfried Stein (1844-1893), was a lumber merchant and owned a sawmill. He married Augusta Stein (1849-1936) on August 2, 1871 and settled in Gliwice, Upper Silesia, where his first six siblings were born: Paul (1872-1943, died in the Theresienstadt concentration camp), Selma (1873-1874), Else (1876-1954), Hedwig (1877-1880), Arno (1879-1948) and Ernst (1880-1882) .3



, Michaelisstraße), BreslaviaPolonia


Infancia y primeros Edith Stein (ca. 1913-1914) durante su período como estudiante en Breslavia


Casa de la familia de Edith Stein, ubicada en la calle Nowowiejska 38 (anteriormenteestudios[editar


His father, Siegfried Stein (1844-1893), was a lumber merchant and owned a sawmill. He married Augusta Stein (1849-1936) on August 2, 1871 and settled in Gliwice, Upper Silesia, where his first six siblings were born: Paul (1872-1943, died in the Theresienstadt concentration camp), Selma (1873-1874), Else (1876-1954), Hedwig (1877-1880), Arno (1879-1948) and Ernst (1880-1882) .3



In 1882 the family settled in the Polish Lublinitz, which was part of the Silesian province of the Kingdom of Prussia, where Siegfried founded his first company with the help of his large family. It was a difficult period during which the family help allowed him not to sink into misery. It was at these times that the last children of the Stein couple came into the world: Elfriede (1881-1942, died in a concentration camp), Rosa (1883-1942, died with Edith in Auschwitz), Richard (1884, stillborn) and Erna (1890-1978). On the father’s death, his widow took over the business.3



Edith Stein was born in the German city of Wrocław (today Wrocław, Poland and historically, in German, Breslau) into a Jewish family, on October 12, 1891, the day of Yom Kippur, which made her especially loved by his mother, a practicing Jew, was the last of a total of eleven children. Her father died of heatstroke when Edith was not yet three years old.3 Her mother, a very religious woman, then had to take care of the family’s needs and run the family business. This difficult task required great discipline and work, a discipline that Augusta Stein tried to pass on to her children, as well as her Jewish faith. Edith Stein said that since she was the smallest in her family, she was the one who, according to liberal Jewish tradition, could ask liturgical questions during Jewish holidays, questions that led to a fuller explanation by the celebrant.5


Edith Stein began her studies at the Victoria School in 1896, the year that for the first time in Prussia girls were allowed to study high school. She quickly settled into the upper class. A classmate said of her: «Her precociousness was not surprising, she was overwhelmed by her elders, but due to the irresistible pride she developed and when the tension could lead to tears and anger, if she did not get what she wanted or She was not the first, the best, she was not so positive … she was an excellent student. ”6 From the age of thirteen, following Yom Kippur, she began to fast until the afternoon. She kept this practice even when she left her family and also when she decided not to pray anymore.7


From 1904 the Lyceum began to admit girls. However, as she reached adolescence, Edith Stein refused to go to secondary school and asked to leave her studies in 1906, at the age of 15. She went to Hamburg for ten months to help her sister Elsa, who was going to have a child. This was the time when she stopped praying: 8 «with full conscience and in a free choice, I stopped praying.»


In September 1907 she returned to Breslau. She again had a great desire for knowledge and put a lot of energy into getting it. She quickly made up for her delay and finished high school in 1908.


During this period she Edith she read and studied a lot. She later said that «these literary readings of the time served me for my entire life.» It was around this time that she began to discover philosophy, especially by reading Friedrich Schiller, a disciple of Immanuel Kant


Edith Stein became politically involved, becoming a member of the local section of the Prussian Association for the Vow of Women.11 She supported, with her sister Erna and her friends, the most radical wing of the feminist movement around Anita Augspurg , Helene Stöcker and Linda Gustava Heymann, the most radical wing in the sense that it demanded total equality between men and women.


Edith Stein successfully obtained her baccalaureate degree in 1911 and decided to pursue university studies in philosophy.11


The philosopher [edit]


Edith Stein memorial plaque in Pragu

University of Breslau [edit]


Edith Stein was persuaded that «we are on earth to serve humanity (…) To do it in the best possible way we must do what we are inclined to do.» 1213 She then began her studies brilliantly at the University from Breslau, aided by the money – several thousand marks – inherited from her grandmother Johanna Stein.14 Edith decided to study a large number of subjects: Indo-European languages, Old German, the history of German theater, the history of Prussia and Frederick the Grande, history of the English Constitution, philosophy of nature, introduction to psychology and, finally, initiation to Greek. Edith Stein studied history in depth and considered herself «passionate about the political events of the present considered as the history of the future.» 15 From this period in her life came the many historical examples that she later used in her lectures. . She also studied psychology with William Stern and the philosophy taught by Richard Hönigswald.16 It was during the time of her studies in psychology that Edith declared herself an atheist.17 Her school friend Georg Moskiewicz, who was studying psychology with her, spoke to her in 1912 about the new philosophical orientation represented by Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology. She decided to study it and was seduced by the phenomenological reduction procedure. This discovery was the one that decided her to go to Göttingen.18


In this city he participated in two associations: the first was the Humboldt Association for popular education, which gave free tutoring courses to workers and employees. He also gave spelling courses. The second was a women’s association whose connecting link was gender equality and where it organized small debates. Edith met Kaethe Scholz, a professor who taught philosophy courses to women in Breslau. Her example inspired Edith Stein when she founded her Academy in 1920.19


Studies in Göttingen [edit


In 1913 he entered the University of Göttingen, where he studied Germanistik und Geschichte (Germanistics and History). Attracted by phenomenology, she became a disciple of the famous philosopher Edmund Husserl. In Freiburg, in 1917, she approved with the qualification summa cum laude her doctoral thesis On the problem of empathy, a topic suggested to her by Max Scheler, with which she began her philosophical works. Following her thesis came her writings Sentient Causality and Individual and Community, in which she sought to philosophically justify the new psychology. Her last work corresponding to her first period was An investigation on the state, the culmination of her project to elaborate a phenomenological anthropology that would be from the singular man to the person as a community.20


At the university, she followed the philosophy courses of Leonard Nelson and the historian Max Lehmann, a student of the historian Leopold von Ranke, of whom Edith was called «the spiritual little daughter.» 21


Within this first stage in his philosophical thought, his work Introduction to Philosophy stood out. Although it did not belong to the cycle of previous works and it is difficult to catalog, it is a highly original work. In it the main problems of the philosophy of nature are discovered: movement, the notions of time and space or what is a material and physical object. In her dialogues with Immanuel Kant and Husserl, in which she demonstrated profound knowledge of the difficult sciences of her time (physics, biology, philosophy of science), Edith Stein established a fundamental difference between the problems of nature and the problems of subjectivity. From the second stage – in charge of studying subjectivity – she formulated an anthropology proper and highlighted the characteristics of man such as freedom, conscience and reflective capacity. In this work she spoke of the structures of the personality and used the writing as a preamble to a work of her later stage: The Structure of the Human Person, which is a course that she taught at the Institute for Scientific Pedagogy in Münster, Westphalia (1932 -19



Thanks to her friend Georg Moskiewicz, Edith Stein was accepted into the Philosophical Society of Göttingen, which brought together the main members of nascent phenomenology: Edmund Husserl, Adolf Reinach and Max Scheler, mainly. Edith had, as a result of these encounters, a personal and deep correspondence with Roman Ingarden, Hans Lipps and Alexandre Koyré, among the most important. This made her later to meet Dietrich von Hildebrandt and, above all, Hedwig Conrad-Martius and Theodor Conrad, who became very close friends with her .23


Edith decided at that time to prepare for the «state exam», a preliminary step before the thesis. She followed the lectures of Max Scheler, who organized his speeches from his new essay entitled The formalism in ethics and the material ethics of values, between 1913 and 1916, in whose reading Edith found numerous inspirations for her works on empathy. . Despite the great difficulties that she had, Edith continued her studies with the help of Reinach. Examination of her was scheduled for 1914.23


World War I [edit]


During the First World War Edith Stein decided to return to Breslau. She immediately went to serve and help in the best way that she could. She took frequent nursing assistant courses and worked in an Austrian hospital. These were very difficult times for her. The hospital where she served was closed in 1916 and Stein resumed her philosophical studies with Husserl and obtained a doctorate at the University of Freiburg.


Stein wrote: «When the war is over, if I am still alive, I will be able to think again about my personal occupations.» He returned to Göttingen to take his «state exam»; he passed the exam at the beginning of January and obtained the diploma with the qualification of «very good» .24


After her examination, she rejoined the Red Cross and was sent to the Mährish-Weisskirchen military hospital in Austria. She cared for the sick with infectious diseases, she worked in the operating room, she saw men dying very young, from all over Eastern Europe. This experience marked her deeply. It is a kind of practical experience of empathy: how to communicate with men whose language she was little known to her? She earned the Medal of Valor for her dedication. Exhausted, she advised him to leave her for her house and they did not call her anymore.


Philosophy thesis [edit]




Edith Stein in 1920


Stein then decided to dedicate himself seriously to her thesis. At that time she was part of the inner circle of her teachers. Her friend Reinach of hers converted to Protestantism during the war, was baptized on April 9, 1916, and Edith Stein became increasingly close to Christian people in the philosophers’ circle.



Stein continued with her thesis while she was a substitute teacher at Breslau. She decided to follow Edmund Husserl to Freiburg, where she was one of the first women to be rated summa cum laude in her thesis in 1917 with Husserl’s support.27 The thesis was titled On the Problem of Empathy, which she defined as » a sui generis experience, the experience of states of consciousness of others, in general, (…) The experience that a self in general has of another self similar to this one ». Her work excited Husserl, who had the impression that she anticipated a part of her ideas.28 Edith was frequently seen by the Polish student Roman Ingarden, with whom she had flirtations.29


Collaboration with Husserl [edit]


Stein quickly became Husserl’s assistant and offered her services after approving his thesis in 1917. She learned stenography so that she could read Husserl’s notes.30 She gave introductory courses in philosophical thought and synthesized volumes 2 and 3 of Guiding Ideas. of a phenomenology and a pure phenomenological philosophy


His philosophical research focused on the human person, interpersonal relationships, communities of belonging, such as the State, people, ethnic group, religious, etc. He emphasized the sense of values, freedom, the rejection of totalitarianism. Throughout these years of research, Stein tried to synthesize the whole of Husserl’s thought with his own notes. She reviewed this book for her entire life. It was published in 1991 under the title Introduction to Philosophy.31



Edmund Husserl wrote of Edith Stein: «the great style that governs the elaboration of these contributions, the rigorous scientific character and the finesse that has been shown in them deserves the highest recognition.» 32 However, Husserl refused to subject Edith Stein to university qualification, which did not prevent him from being the holder of a chair. His opposition seemed to be based on the fear that this process might fail to the extent that there were still no women holding the Chair of Philosophy in Germany. Furthermore, like many of the many Jewish teachers, Husserl was in a difficult position.33


Edith Stein was very affected by the death in front of her friend Reinach. She «she inherited» her philosophical notes, where Reinach tried to understand her own religious evolution. She herself put her notes in order and made them known.34


Edith herself wrote the work Lessons in the phenomenology of the internal consciousness of time from these notes by Husserl, a work edited by Martin Heidegger in 1928. The latter did not correctly mention Edith Stein’s contribution.35


Conversion and commitments [edit

Political commitment and feminism [edit]


Edith Stein was very interested in questions concerning women. She worked for the right to vote for women, which was obtained in 1919 in Germany. She was a member of the Prussian Association for the Right of Women to Vote ”. In 1919 she joined the German Democratic Party (DDP), a center-left party that welcomed feminists as well as Jewish personalities. Although she in her youth claimed to be sensitive to the Prussian ideal, she became increasingly critical of Prussian militarism and the surrounding anti-Semitism. Edith herself wrote in 1919: «Anyway, we (Jews) cannot expect any sympathy from the right.» She commented to her Polish friend Roman Ingarden «the terrible anti-Semitism that reigns here.» The great idealist progressively opted for the reality of politics.She 36 she Later she wrote: “Young student, I was a radical feminist. Then this question lost interest in me. Now I am looking for purely


Edith Stein was very interested in questions concerning women. She worked for the right to vote for women, which was obtained in 1919 in Germany. She was a member of the Prussian Association for the Right of Women to Vote ”. In 1919 she joined the German Democratic Party (DDP), a center-left party that welcomed feminists as well as Jewish personalities. Although she in her youth she claimed to be sensitive to the Prussian ideal, she became increasingly critical of Prussian militarism and the surrounding anti-Semitism.


Edith wrote in 1919: «Anyway, we (Jews) cannot expect any sympathy from the right.» She commented to her Polish friend Roman Ingarden «the terrible anti-Semitism that reigns here.» The great idealist progressively opted for the reality of politics.She 36 she Later she wrote: “Young student, I was a radical feminist. Then this question lost interest in me. Now I am looking for purely objective solutions


Edith Stein was the first woman to receive a doctorate in philosophy from the most eminent philosopher of her time, Edmund Husserl, 40 and the first to officially ask that women be given the status of «teaching staff.» During the years 1918 and 1919 she published The Individual and the Community under the title Contributions to a Philosophical Foundation of Psychology and the Human Sciences, she moved away from Husserl’s ideas and remembered religion. Faced with the discrimination suffered about her qualification, she wrote to the German Minister of Culture, who agreed with her, affirming the possibility that a woman could be a university professor. However, despite all her efforts, she had to take refuge in Kiel, Hamburg and Göttingen.41 she Faced with this opposition she founded a private academy that had thirty students, including the future sociologist Norbert Elias. She continued with her reflections, which she presented in the publication of Study on the State, in which the concepts of person, community, town and state were described. She opposed the ideology of German National Socialism, as well as Marxist ideologies.42


Edith observed at the end of her life the progress made in relation to the rights of women, as well as the changes in mentality, and wrote a new book, Training of women and the profession of women, where she explained that “young women now approve the baccalaureate and enroll in the university but ignore how long it took in meetings, resolutions, written requests to the Reichstag or Staatsregierungen to open the doors of the German university to women in 1901 ».43


Encounter with Christ [edit]


Frankfurt Cathedral in 1866


Memorial in Bad Bergzabern, where Edith Stein was baptized


Edith Stein’s conversion was preceded by a long intellectual and spiritual search that lasted from 1916 to 1921. Throughout this period she read and studied the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the Kierkegaard School of Christianity and the Confessions of Saint Augustine.44



The first stage of his conversion was an experience of change during a visit to the Frankfurt Cathedral, where he met a woman who came from the market for a short prayer, as a visitor, and then left. Stein explained it like this: «For me it was something quite new. In the synagogues and temples that I knew, we would go there for a service. Here, in the midst of daily business, someone entered a church as if for a confidential exchange. I will never be able to forget this ».39



At this time Edith was deeply impressed by the death in front of her friend Adolf Reinach, but it was the attitude of his widow Pauline that constituted, according to her, the most important and crucial element. Pauline Reinach, who later became a Benedictine nun, believed in eternal life and found comfort and encouragement strengthened in her faith in Jesus. Through this experience, she discovered the existence of a supernatural love.45 Edith herself would later affirm that “the decisive cause of her conversion to Christianity was the way in which her friend accepted by the force of the mystery of the cross the sacrifice that was made. imposed on her because of the death of her husband. «46



In the circle of phenomenologists there were many conversions to Christianity, such as her friends Anne and Pauline Reinach, F. Hamburger and H. Conrad, mainly47 and, in August 1921, Edith Stein decided definitively for the Catholic faith. Between May 27 and August 3, during a stay in Bad Bergzabern at the home of her friends Theodor and Hedwig Conrad-Martius, she read or reread a farewell book that she found in the Reinach library: the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Jesus. Beyond understanding and analyzing the concepts presented, Edith made a «sapiential» reading, that is, she read La Vida as a revelation of a person addressed to another person.48 This episode is the culmination of her long search for the truth, 49 but he did not stop considering it as a kind of personal failure, as fundamentally irreligious. According to Edith herself – which she would confess after her – this work was decisive for her definitive conversion to Catholicism. Edith was baptized into the Catholic Church on January 1, 1922 and took the names of Edith, Teresa —the same as Saint Teresa— and Hedwig, the name of her godmother Hedwig Conrad-Martius. On February 2 of the same year, she received her first communion and confirmation from the hands of Ludwig Sebastian, bishop of the diocese of Speyer. 5051 Edith later said that: “one can be aware of the truth, without accepting it, refusing to enter his terrain ».52


From that moment she wanted to be a Carmelite. Announcing her conversion to her mother was very difficult for her, and she herself said: «As for my mother, my conversion was the heaviest pain I had to endure.»


Conferences [edit


After her baptism Edith wanted to enter the Order of Carmel but her spiritual director, the Vicar General of Speyer, advised her against it and asked her to teach German and history at the institute and at the normal school for women of the Dominican convent of the Magdalena de Espira, which she did from 1922 to 1933.50 It was a great training center for Catholic, religious and lay teachers from southern Germany. Edith Stein immersed herself in teaching as she tried to live her days like the religious, praying regularly and trying to be religious after her heart. She wanted to be, in her words: «religious according to the heart, even if I do not wear the veil and I am not bound by the cloister or by the vows.» 54 She decided to translate the works of John Henry Newman into German, in her spare time, Anglican converted to Catholicism.55 He continued his translation for a publishing house interested in Newman’s work. Stein commented on this that “getting in close contact, like the one who gives the translation, with a spirit like Newman’s is wonderful for me. Her whole life has been a constant search for truth in religion.


Edith continued her translation work encouraged by her spiritual director, Erich Przywara, to translate for the first time the writings of Saint Thomas from Latin into German, including the Quaestiones disputatae de veritate. The Catholic Church had included since 1879 in the encyclical Aeterni Patris, published by Pope Leo XIII on August 4, 1879, the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas as the official doctrine of its theology and Edith Stein intuited the idea of ​​«discussion between the traditional Catholic philosophy and modern philosophy. ”57 This work lasted more than eight years and led to the following writings: The questions of Saint Thomas Aquinas about truth, The phenomenology of Husserl and the philosophy of Saint Thomas of Aquino, Essay of comparative studies, Power and act and Being finite and Being eternal. Father Erich Przywara encouraged her to confront Saint Thomas Aquinas and modern philosophy. Edith herself said about these studies: «it occurred to me after reading Saint Thomas that it was possible to put knowledge at the service of God and it was then, and only then, that I dared to resume my work in earnest. It seemed that, in fact, the more a person is drawn to God, the more he has to go out of himself to go into the world carrying divine love.


From 1926 they asked him to give lectures. This was the beginning of a series of them that led her to give more than thirty throughout Germany. Abbot Raphael Walzer of Beuron Abbey – her spiritual director of it from 1928 – and Father Przywara encouraged her to respond affirmatively to these invitations. She began to give lectures by making long trips to Germany and other countries. Many of her teachings dealt with the place of women in society and in the Church, in the formation of young people and in anthropology. She definitely took a stand against Nazism and made a call about the dignity of every human being.59


During these conferences he said that in education everything cannot be achieved by force but must pass through respect for each individual and through grace. Therefore, he warned against surveillance of students and demonstrated the exemplary role of the teacher in education, rather than coercive means.60


Her spiritual director encouraged her to continue with her work, precisely because of her lay status, a rare fact at that time.61 Edith took part in the dialogue between Catholics and Protestants in education.62 Edith Stein gained a considerable reputation during a conference in 1930 on The Ethics of the Women’s Professions. Only one woman had spoken in Congress and spoke of women’s jobs and rejected the misogyny of the time saying that «no woman is just a woman, each one has individual traits and specific dispositions, like men, for the ability to exercise this or that profession in the artistic, scientific or technical world. ”6364 The proceedings of the conference were published in numerous newspapers of the time. During one of these lectures she argued with Gertrud von Le Fort, her friend, a poet of hers. In the Position, Gertrud von Le Fort even went so far as to affirm – but from memory forty years later – that she was in contact with Edith Stein during the years 1925 and 1926 through Father Przywara. From this meeting the inspiration for the work La dernière à l’échafaud was born, in which Georges Bernanos was inspired to write Dialogues of Carmelites. In 1932 she continued her lectures, in which she requested an early education on sexuality


Edith Stein continued her studies of philosophy in parallel and was encouraged by Martin Heidegger and Raimund Honecker to continue in the search for a dialogue between Thomist philosophy and phenomenological philosophy.61 In 1931 she finished her work at Speyer and tried again to obtain the qualification to teach. freely in Breslau and Freiburg, but did not succeed. Ella edith ella found a position at the Münster institute of pedagogical sciences, 65 aimed at Catholic teaching, which was closed by the Nazi regime some years later. In September 1932 she participated in a conference in Juvisy-sur-Orge, in France, organized by the Thomist Society, where she spoke mainly about phenomenology.66 Edith continued the dialogues with her philosopher friends, such as Hans Lipps, who proposed to her in 1932, a request that Edith refused because she had already found «another way



Edith Stein gradually dissociated herself from Edmund Husserl, since she disagreed with him regarding the role of theology and philosophy. He believed that philosophy was aimed at «delving into the needs and possibilities of being,» because of its function of knowledge.68 Husserl’s philosophy seemed to him a dead end, since it did not provide access to questions of ethics and philosophy of religion, not allowing a «place for God.» 69 Theology and philosophy «must not compete but complement and enrich each other.» 68 Theology could, indeed, according to Edith, serve as a permanent hypothesis for logos. She also criticized the fact that Husserl’s philosophy omitted centuries of Christian search for truth taking into account only recent philosophers.70 She continued this criticism by analyzing the work of Martin Heidegger. She adduced ignorance of medieval philosophy in her analysis and she reproached him for «retreating before infinity without anything of the finite or finite as such being palpable.» 69



Shortly after the Nazis took power, German law prohibited women from teaching in universities, as well as Jews. However, even when she herself was banned from teaching in 1933, the Association of Catholic Teachers continued to pay her a scholarship.65 Edith Stein was an active opponent of Nazism and soon sensed the danger. When she was forbidden to teach due to the arrival of Adolf Hitler to power, she decided to write to Pope Pius XI to ask him for a clear position of the Church against what she called «the idolatry of race» .71 This was not carried out to cause of the death of Pius XI, a death that left incomplete the encyclical Humani generis Unitas that condemned anti-Semitism and that had begun in May 1938. Some believe that Edith Stein’s letter may have had some influence on the origin of this encyclical.72 The condemnation of Nazism by the Catholic Church took place through the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge of Pope Pius XI on the situation of the Church in Nazi Germany, published on March 14, 1937. Since Stein could not speak in public due to to the anti-Semitic laws he asked Abbot Walzer of Beuron to enter Carmel.73


Religious life [edit]


The election of Carmel [edit]


The choice of Carmel can have several explanations. The first reason is the reading of the mystics of Carmel as a result of the movements of the phenomenologists of 1917. It is the testimony of a conversation that took place around 1918: 75 in a period of doubts and difficulties, Philomène Steiger (1896-1985) , a Catholic friend of hers, told her about the mission of the prophet Elijah, who defined him as the true founder of Carmel, who seeks union with God in solitude.50 At this time Edith Stein already knew the writings of Carmel. The second reason, the most important, is her admiration for Teresa de Ávila and her works, which led her to the knowledge of Christ. After reading her biography, she had made the decision to be Catholic and to enter Carmel one day, in order to «renounce all things on earth and live only in the thought of the divine» because, as she herself said , to discover that the Carmelite vocation, far from being an escape from the «terrestrial» is, on the contrary, a concrete way of incarnating a «great love» .76


Entry into the Carmel of Cologne [edit]


In 1933, deprived as a Jew of the right to speak publicly, she asked to enter Carmel, despite her 41 years. She was admitted to the Carmel in Cologne. She took her habits on April 15, 1934 and received the name Teresa Benedicta de la Cruz. Her superiors encouraged her to resume her philosophical work. On Easter April 21, 1935, Edith Stein made her temporary vows. Stein had permission to continue her studies on Potency and Act, a philosophical study project that she continued until 1939.77 Her work led to a thorough review of the project, she changed the previous name to Being finite and being eternal. These writings can be considered as her masterpiece. She established a path of seeking God, which goes through a search for self-knowledge. All this work could not be published because of the anti-Jewish laws of the Third Reich. She renewed her temporary vows on September 14, 1936. During the ceremony, Stein stated: «When it was my turn to renew my vows, I felt that my mother was close to me, I have clearly experienced that that her mother had died at that very moment, which was a profound comfort to she was close to me.» 52 Edith Stein she learned a few days later her.

On April 21, 1938, Stein promised her final vows as a Carmelite. Faced with the danger of Nazi laws, Sister Teresa Benedicta de la Cruz requested authorization to leave for Carmel de Echt in the Netherlands, on December 31, 1938.79 On June 9, 1939 Edith Stein wrote her will, which, according to Eduardo de la Hera— could be interpreted as a foreboding of her death. On July 1 of that year, her sister Rosa, also a convert to Catholicism, arrived at the same Carmel in Echt and professed as a Tertiary Carmelite. She had not previously secured accommodation in another convent in Austria, so she was able to accompany Stein almost until her death .80


Carmel of Echt [edit


On December 31, 1938, she was sent to the Carmel of Echt in the Netherlands. The Carmelites of Cologne assumed that, being the Netherlands a neutral country and of political refugees, she Stein could live there safely. Edith Stein came to Carmel from Echt, but she had registered with the offices of the Dutch immigration authorities as a Jew. She was increasingly concerned about the fate of her friends and her Jewish family. She continued with her work, but she asked her superior «to offer herself in sacrifice to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for true peace.» On June 9, 1939, he drew up his will, in which he «implored the Lord to take his life» for world peace and the salvation of the Jews.79 The annexation of the Netherlands by Nazi Germany led to a situation increasingly difficult for Edith Stein, subject to a special status because of her Jewish origin. However, Sister Teresa Benedicta de la Cruz continued to write in accordance with the wishes of her superiors. For this reason, she was discharged from her manual work in early 1941. To celebrate the fourth centenary of the birth of Saint John of the Cross, Sister Teresa Benedicta de la Cruz began to study her mystical theology .81


Stein had prepared the writing of this great work with a short essay on the symbolic theology of the Pseudo Dionisio Areopagita, one of the sources of the thought of Saint John of the Cross.82 He tried to understand in retrospect how some managed to discover better to God through creation, the Bible, and life experiences, while for others these same elements remained completely hidden. He titled his work on Saint John of the Cross Scientia Crucis (The Science of the Cross). He made a synthesis of the thought of the Spanish Carmel with his own study of the human person, freedom and interiority. Contrary to what was said, the latest handwriting and literary studies showed that the work was finished at the time of Edith Stein’s arrest.8384 It is a synthesis of her intellectual and spiritual trajectory. Through the experience of Saint John of the Cross, he tries to find the general «laws» of the path that human interiority can follow to reach the kingdom of freedom: how to achieve in oneself the central point where each one can decide with full freedom.85 However, Edith Stein tried to leave Holland to go to a Carmel in Switzerland and live her faith without the threat of the Nazis, but her efforts were unsuccessful because she was denied the right to emigrate. She herself wrote in June 1942: «for months, I put my heart on a piece of paper with the words of Christ: ‘when they persecute you in one city, flee to another’».


Arrest and death during the Holocaust [edit]


Relic of the habit of Edith Stein in the cathedral of Speyer



On May 10, 1940, Hitler’s troops began the occupation of the Netherlands, whose government capitulated on the 14th of the same month. It was then that the possibility of transferring Edith Stein and her sister Rosa from her to the Carmel of Le Pâquier in Switzerland was studied. Stein wrote



A scientia crucis – science of the cross – can only be acquired by fully experiencing the cross.87

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Edith stein


On January 13, 1941, the Dutch bishops published a pastoral letter in which they were against Catholics belonging to the Nazi party. On September 1, a new National Socialist police decree came into force whereby all Jews aged six years and over, located on German territory or under its rule, were to appear in public wearing a yellow badge with the appearance of a star of David and the word Jude – «Jew» in the German language – in its center, sewn firmly on the front left of their garments.88 Edith and her sister learned of the move in Maastricht and should have adopted that insignia.89 Stein advocated write and, in the month of November, he wrote one of his most famous works, Science of the Cross


Given the increase in anti-Semitism in the Netherlands, the Dutch bishops decided, 91 against the advice of the country’s leaders, to condemn anti-Semitic acts by reading during the homily a pastoral letter in the churches on July 26, 1942.9293 As a result of this letter, four days later a decree was published ordering the arrest of «Jews of the Catholic religion.» 94 In April of that same year, Stein and his sister Rosa were «booked» by the Gestapo in retaliation by the Nazis. to the pastoral mission of the Dutch bishops who took a position against the deportation of Jews; Edith Stein and her sister were arrested on August 2, 1942 by the Gestapo and taken with other men and women religious to the Amersfoort concentration camp and, days later, to Westerbork (Netherlands).


There she found two spiritual friends and «daughters,» two young Jewish women who had converted to Catholicism, Ruth Kantorowicz and Alice Reis. In the Westerbork camp she encountered another great 20th century Jewish mystic, Etty Hillesum, who had just been recruited by the camp’s Jewish Council to help make a record. The latter recorded in her Diary the presence of a Carmelite nun with a yellow star and a whole group of religious men and women who gathered to pray in front of the sinister decoration of the barracks.96


Later she was sent to the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz, in Poland. They placed her in barrack 36 and she was tagged # 44 074.97 A group, including Edith Stein, was taken to a barrack «to shower,» but they were actually gassed with hydrocyanic acid. According to list 34 of the Official Gazette of the Dutch Ministry of Justice published on February 16, 1950, Edith Teresa Hedwig Stein died on August 9, 1942.97 She died as a martyr for the Catholic faith at the age of 51.1 List 86 of the The same bulletin published on May 4, 1950, gave the same date as the death of her sister Rosa.97 The remains of Edith Stein’s cremation were dumped in a nearby field, but the exact location is unknown. Today this place has a large number of crosses that pilgrims carried to that place on their knees.98 Edith Stein was a cultured woman of great intelligence and she has left numerous doctrinal writings of great importance and deep spirituality.99



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