“I even believe that the deeper one is drawn into God, the more one must ‘go out of oneself’; that is, one must go to the world in order to carry the divine life into it.”
Edith was born in Breslau, Germany, on October 12, 1891, the youngest of seven children in a prominent Jewish family. Edith abandoned Judaism as early as 1904, becoming a self-proclaimed atheist. Her brilliant intellect was seeking truth, and she entered the University of Gottingen, where she became a protégé of the famed philosopher of Edmund Husserl. She was also a proponent of the philosophical school of phenomenology both at Gottingen and Freiburg in Breisgau. She earned a doctorate in 1916 and emerged as one of Europe’s brightest philosophers. One of her primary endeavors was to examine phenomenology from the perspective of Thomistic thought, part of her growing interest in Catholic teachings. Propelled by her reading of the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila, she was baptized on January 1, 1922. Giving up her university post, she became a teacher in the Dominican school at Speyer, receiving as well in 1932 the post of lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich, resigning under pressure from the Nazis, who were then in control of Germany.
In 1934, Edith entered the Carmelite Order. Smuggled out of Germany into the Netherlands in 1938 to escape the mounting Nazi oppression, she fell into the hands of the Third Reich with the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1940. Arrested in 1942 with her sister Rosa (also a convert) as part of the order by Hitler to liquidate all non-Aryan Catholics, she was taken to Auschwitz, and, on August 9 or 10, 1942, she died in the gas chamber there.
Pope John Paul II canonized Edith on October 11, 1998.
Prayer from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
“When night comes, and retrospect shows that everything was patchwork and much that one had planned left undone, when so many things rouse shame and regret, then take all as is, lay it in God’s hands, and offer it up to Him. In this way we will be able to rest in Him, actually to rest and to begin the new day like a new life.”