Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Edith Stein (1891–1942)

Saint Edith Stein (1891–1942)

Patron saint of converts and people who have lost parents; co-patron saint of Europe

Feast day: August 9

Edith Stein was born to a Jewish family in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland). As a teenager she turned away from Judaism and professed atheism. Years later, after becoming a noted philosopher, Stein was drawn to Catholic thought. Her reading of the autobiography of Teresa of Avila influenced her greatly. After closing the book, she remarked to herself, “This is the truth.”

Stein was baptized in the Catholic Church in 1922. In 1933 she joined a religious community, the Carmelites at Cologne, and took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. In the late 1930s, because Hitler was in power and anti-Jewish sentiment was on the rise, Stein left Germany and sought refuge in the Netherlands, but her safety was short-lived.

During World War II, the Nazi government ordered that all Christians of Jewish descent living in the Netherlands be rounded up for resettlement. Stein, along with her sister, who also converted from Judaism, was arrested and then gassed to death at Auschwitz.

Saint Edith Stein, or Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was canonized in October 1998. (From The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Third Edition [Saint Mary’s Press]) 

(Image in public domain-70)