Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Awesome Saint - Edith Stein

In philosophy we began studying the school of thought known as Phenomenology. In our studies, we've begun reading from a great Phenomenologist and relatively recently canonized saint, Edith Stein. She is absolutely fascinating. Her writing is fairly difficult to understand, but her life was what struck me as most interesting. Here are some highlights.

Edith Stein was born in Poland. She was raised Jewish, but embraced atheism in her early years. She loved studying philosophy and ended up earning a Ph.D in the subject. (If I'm not mistaken, at this particular time, the early 1900s, a woman earning a Ph.D would have been sort of a "new" thing) She studied under famous phenomenologist Husserl. She read the autobiography of St. Teresa of Jesus and was moved to convert to Catholicism. In 1933, she became a Carmelite and took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. When the Nazis came into power, she had to flee the convent to keep her sisters safe from Nazi harm. Since she was of Jewish descent, she was arrested in the Netherlands and taken to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Here, she was killed in the gas chamber, and her body was cremated. In 1998 she was officially canonized by Pope John Paul II.

Her philosophy also went on to influence Pope John Paul II. His encyclical "Faith and Reason," (Fidei et Ratio in Latin, I believe) mentions her.

St. Edith Stein, Pray for us!

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