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Ordinary Time: August 9th

Optional Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, virgin and martyr

Daily Readings for: August 09, 2012
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: God of our Fathers, who brought the Martyr Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross to know your crucified Son and to imitate him even until death, grant, through her intercession, that the whole human race may acknowledge Christ as its Savior and through him come to behold you for eternity. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Old Calendar: The Vigil of St. Lawrence; St. Romanus, martyr

Edith Stein was born of Jewish parents in 1891, becoming an influential philosopher following her extensive studies at major German universities. After her conversion to Catholicism she became a major force in German intellectual life, entering the Discalced Carmelites in 1933. Sister Teresa Benedicta was arrested by the Nazi regime in 1942, along with all Catholics of Jewish extraction and transported by cattle train to the death camp of Auschwitz. She died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz that same year.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of the Vigil of St. Lawrence, a Deacon, one of the most famous martyrs of the innumerable Roman persecutions. It is also the commemoration of St. Romanus, a martyr who was buried on the Via Tiburtina outside the walls of Rome.


St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
A brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was fourteen, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila that she began a spiritual journey that led to her Baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Born into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), Edith abandoned Judaism in her teens. As a student at the University of Gottingen, she became fascinated by phenomenology, an approach to philosophy. Excelling as a protege of Edmund Husserl, one of the leading phenomenologists, Edith earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1916. She continued as a university teacher until 1922 when she moved to a Dominican school in Speyer; her appointment as lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich ended under pressure from the Nazis.

After living in the Cologne Carmel (1934-1938), she moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.

Pope John Paul II beatified Teresa Benedicta in 1987 and canonized her in 1998.

Excerpted from the Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

Patron: Europe; loss of parents; martyrs.

Things to Do:


St. Romanus
St. Romanus is mentioned in the "Liber Pontificalis" with three other ecclesiastics as companions in the martyrdom of St. Lawrence. There is no reason to doubt that this mention rests upon a genuine ancient tradition. Like St. Lawrence Romanus was buried in the Catacomb of the Cyriaca on the Via Tiburtina. The grave of St.Romanus is explicitly mentioned in the Itineraries of the seventh century. In the purely legendary Acts of St. Lawrence, the ostiary Romanus is transformed into a soldier, and an account in accordance with this statement was inserted in the historical martyrologies and in the present Roman Martyrology, which latter places his feast on 9 August.

Excerpted from The Catholic Encyclopedia

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