Saint Edith Stein
Saint, Carmelite Sister, Convert from Judaism, Author, Philosopher, Scholar, Humanitarian.
[The following is from the life of Edith Stein, from Bob and Penny Lord's book, "Martyrs - They died for Christ)
Saint Edith Stein was born in Poland on October 12, 1891. Her parent were Jewish. She was a brilliant student. When she turned seventeen, she entered a Girl's High School in Breslau. At the same time, in another part of Germany, another teenager - Adolph Hitler was failing an entrance exam to the Academy of Arts and already blaming it all on the Jews. Two teenagers - one a Saint and the other damned to Hell for all eternity.
God placed her (Edith) among Jewish intellectuals who had become Christians. Although she considered herself an atheist, she found herself seeking truth, and she later wrote that anyone seeking truth is in reality longing to find God, whether he knows it or not.
Meanwhile, Hitler in 1919 was writing, in his first manifesto: Because of the crimes the Jews had committed, they were to be removed from their midst. [On January 20, 1942, in Berlin there was a conference attended by high ranking officials of the Third Reich. It was decided 11,000,000 Jews were to be exterminated.]
Most of her friends had converted to the Lutheran Faith, and it is believed what held her up from converting was, she really did not know which Church she should join. When she read Saint Teresa of Avila's autobiography, she said that she knew this was the truth, that the Catholic Church contained the Truth, our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. Edith walked the difficult path between her loyalty to her mother and Judaism, and her growing awareness of this God Who was growing inside her. January 1, 1922, Edith Stein was baptized.
January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler became Reich Chancellor of Germany. Edith Stein could have fled from Germany, as many German Jews had. Instead, she chose to go to the Cross for her people. She had spoken to her Savior and told Him that she recognized it was His Cross that the Jewish people were being made to carry. She wrote:"Those who understand must accept it with all their heart, for those who do not understand."
On the Feast Day of Saint Teresa of Avila, October 14, 1933, Edith Stein entered the Carmel in Cologne. She took the Religious name "Teresa Benedicta a Cruce", Teresa Blessed by the Cross. She shared with her Spiritual Director that she chose the name because it represented the one who had led her into the Church and the Carmel, Saint Teresa, and the role that she chose: to her Lord through the Cross. She offered up her life for not only the persecuted (the Jews) but the persecutors (the Nazis). She felt that if she did not pray and offer her life for the immortal souls of the Nazis, and for the remission of their sins, as the Savior had done for all mankind, who would?
Saint Edith Stein took her first vows in 1935. When asked how she felt, she replied "Like the Bride of the Lamb". The Nazis marched into the Rhineland, and with them Hell!
1936 was to be a year of pain and joy. When her mother died of cancer, and Edith could not be with her, she thought surely she too would die. Not even the joy of celebrating the Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Cross and her renewing her vows, could stop the ache in her heart. Her sister Rosa was baptized that Christmas.
As Hitler and his forces of destruction spread to Austria in March of 1938 and on to the Sudetenland in September, Edith Stein was taking her final vows. In April of 1938, when she stood before the altar of God and her whole community, she abandoned herself totally to our Lord through His Mother.
Often Saint Edith Stein was spotted praying before the picture of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was not that she was praying for suffering. We believe that she knew that one day she was to walk that Way of the Cross with Mother Mary and her Son. She believed that only by standing with Mother Mary at the foot of the Cross, your eyes on the Crucified, can you win souls for Jesus.
When at last they at Auschwitz, a welcoming band greeted them with German folk songs. They were told to disrobe completely. They were handed soap and towels. A sign read "Clean is Good!" They were led to cottages where they were told, they would be deloused. The mothers with an instinct only a mother has, tried to hide their children under the clothes, until they would come out from the showers. When the guards caught them and asked them why, they replied, they were afraid the disinfectant would harm the children. They were assured this was nonsense, and so the mothers led their children into the cottages with them.
When some of the prisoners became aware of their fate and refused to enter the gas chambers, they were clubbed and thrown in. The guards carefully silenced anyone who gave the slightest evidence of hysteria, lest they incite a riot. They really had very little to fear; most were too weak from the long, arduous trip to standup, no less fight.
For Edith and her sister and all the others who had survived the days of unbearable heat locked inside the airless cars, the walk from the train stop to the cottages was a long, hard one. [When we were at Auschwitz, we looked down from the guardsí post in the watch-tower. Our guide pointed out the distance the sisters and the Jews had to walk; it was miles from the platform to the cottages.] Edith thought that the guards would choose them to work in Germany. Thatís what they did with strong, able-bodied women. And so, I wonder if she knew the fate that awaited them. Was there possibly a ray of hope that they would survive?
It was the beginning of the implementation of their perfect plan! The Nazis had to devise a method of disposing of the Jewsand their political prisoners, in the fastest, most efficient way. They learned, all too soon, that they could not handle the hundreds of thousands who were being herded into the camps, so their next plan was to exterminate them! They came upon a plan to use Cyclon B, a bitter, extremely poisonous gas that was supposed to kill those
trapped within, in fifteen to twenty minutes. Before they died, their lungs, their throats, their esophagusí, were set on fire by this powerful acid. It was a horrible death.
But when Edith and her sister arrived, the Nazis had not yet perfected this method of exterminating defenseless men, women and children. The guards had not thrown enough cans of cyanide in the air-tight, sealed cottage, and so, when they opened the door twenty-four hours later, they were still alive. They threw in more cans.
We stood on the spot where the cottage once stood, the torture chamber where Edith and her sister, along with so many other Martyrs, went to their horrible death. All that remains is a small sign where a harmless looking cottage became a house of horror. Less than twenty feet from the cottage was a mound of bones that had survived over fifty years, there as a witness to manís inhumanity to man. When the Nazis could not cremate the bodies fast enough, to keep up with the mass annihilation, they piled the dead bodies, forming funeral pyres. In this large field, we saw Crosses where the bodies of Christians had been burned and Stars of David where the Jews had been.
Because she and all those who had been chosen to die [approximately 1/2 had been judged unfit to work and therefore killed.] were killed immediately, there were no records. It would appear that the world would never know what had happened that dark and ugly day. But the Lord would not allow His bride to be lost in a maze of shadows of the valley of death. Our faithful Father in Heaven wants her story to be told, as well as the events that led up to such a massacre of humanity. The world is poorer because we have been cheated of loving, talented, committed Saints like Edith Stein, Sister Teresa Benedicta a Cruce. The Lord will not allow them to die in vain. Their cries will not be silenced. God will not allow us to ignore history. Why? Because He loves us.
Who was Edith Stein? As with Saint Maxmilian Kolbe, Edith Stein would have been nominated for Sainthood even if she had not died a Martyrís death. Her writings, so long suppressed under the Nazis have now been published not only in German but have been translated and published in English.
"Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it"
Edith Stein was one of 6,000,000 Jews, and 4,000,000 Christians who were murdered while the world looked the other way.
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Scenes from Auschwitz and Germany.
A convert from Judaism, who died not only for her Jewish brothers and sisters, but for her executioners, saying if she did not pray for them who would. Her conversion came about through the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila.
Visit Auschwitz and witness the horror of Hitlerís systematic annihilation of the helpless in this Nazi death camp. Stand at the spot where the little white cottage stood where Edith and her sister, along with other innocent victims were gassed to death.
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Go to his room and look out the window upon the statue of the Blessed Mother, he looked to for strength as he saw the gestapo coming to take him to a Death Camp.
He gave up his life for another, with the words,"I want to take this mans place. I am a Catholic Priest." I want to take this mans place. I am a Catholic Priest."
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Died for Christ - Book
"Because of these brave Martyrs, we have a Church today; we have a country today; we have a world today. They gave their lives that our Church may survive, and spread to the four corners of the Earth."
The Martyrs of Auschwitz - Edith SteinSaint - Carmelite Convert - Author - She died for her people.
Maxmilian Kolbe When as a child Our Lady offered him two crowns: purity and martyrdom - he chose both.
The Irish Martyrs Suffered persecution, famine, Martrydom and near annihilation for their Faith.
The American Martyrs Knowing they would die, they went to bring the light of Jesus to the New World.
The Mexican Martyrs Martyrs of the 20th century, they died rather than deny the Pope and Mother Church.
The Polish Martyrs Read about the ongoing suffering and Martyrdom, the Poles endured for 51 years.
The English Martyrs They would not compromise their Church, not for the King or the country they dearly loved.
Archbishop Oscar Romero Martyred on the Altar.
Saint Joan of Arc - Burned at the stake. and other martyrs
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