St. Teresa Benedicta. Do you know her? You ought to.

Edith Stein was born in 1891 in Germany, the youngest of 11 children. She was raised Jewish but fell away from the faith and all belief in God as a teen. Highly gifted, Stein grew up to obtain her doctorate in philosophy, studying under the famous phenomenologist philosopher Edmund Husserl.

She experienced a profound intellectual conversion at the age of 29. Vacationing with friends, but alone in the house one night, Stein picked up the biography of St. Teresa of Avila and read it all in one sitting. Instantly convinced of the truth of Catholicism, she was received into the Church the following January.

Stein would remain in academia and public life for another 13 years, but finally answered a long-standing call to enter religious life in 1933 when she entered the Carmel of Cologne, taking the religious name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Fearing for her safety (as an ethnic Jew) after the terror of kristallnacht (November 9, 1938), the nuns in Cologne sent her to the Carmel in Echt, the Netherlands (CatholicEducation.org). While the move preserved her safety for four years, the Nazis ultimately invaded the Netherlands, arrested her and brought her to Auschwitz, where within a week of her arrival, they executed her. She died at the age of 50, a martyr, was beatified on 1 May 1987 by Pope John Paul II and later canonized by him on 11 October 1998.

This powerhouse saint has so much to say to us today, and we recommend digging deeper, for instance by reading her explanation of the Spirituality of the Christian Woman, this mini-biography from EWTN, here, another beautiful short bio, here, this compilation of links, including her 1933 letter to Pope Pius XI expressing the dangerous rise of Nazism in Germany, and – finally – a place to find her writings for purchase, alas not yet widely available in the public domain. She understood

But, for the sake of introductions, we present today just a few gems that we think will only draw hearts and minds to friendship with this brilliant 20th century saint, co-patron saint of Europe, voice for women, martyr, who deeply grasped the full compatibility and mutual enrichment of faith and reason that our contemporary world so longs for.

18 Beautiful Quotes from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

1. On Motherhood

St. Teresa Benedicta

2 & 3. On seeking truth

St. Teresa Benedicta

St. Teresa Benedicta

4. On the primacy of being over doing

St. Teresa Benedicta

5. On the Imago Dei and human will

St. Teresa Benedicta

6. On the infinite diversity and splendor of God’s creativity

St. Teresa Benedicta

7. On the essential unity between Truth and Love

St. Teresa Benedicta

8. On the human responsibility to defend the true and the good

St. Teresa Benedicta

9. On the feminine genius

St. Teresa Benedicta

10. On the vocation to religious life

St. Teresa Benedicta

11. On the formation of girls

St. Teresa Benedicta

12. On authentic Christian discipleship

St. Teresa Benedicta

13. On maternal instincts

St. Teresa Benedicta

14. On prayer and the use of time

St. Teresa Benedicta

15. On women’s vocations

St. Teresa Benedicta

16. On providence and God’s plan for our lives

St. Teresa Benedicta

17. On the universal, essential and ongoing human need for mothers

St. Teresa Benedicta

18. On daily, humble surrender to God

St. Teresa Benedicta

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us!