Ordinary Time: August 9th
Optional Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, virgin and martyr
Other Commemorations: St. Romanus, martyr (RM)
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 St. 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.
- In the month of August we celebrate two martyrs of Auschwitz, St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Teresa Benedicta. We need to pray, hard and often that our world does not return to the inhumanity to man. The acceptance of euthanasia and abortion, embryonic stem cell research, IVF, are the first steps to deciding who can live or who can die. Offer a Mass, say a rosary, offer sacrifices, etc. to end abortion and other sins against mankind. Read about Auschwitz and ponder the modern gas chambers in every state of our Union and resolve to do all that you can to end the killing.
- Read more about Edith Stein at this site.
- To teach the children more about this saint, discuss topics such as these at age-appropriate levels :
- Definition of a martyr.
- Discussion of the Jews as our older brothers and sisters in the Faith. In the Eucharistic Prayer I (the Roman Canon) we refer to "Abraham, our father in faith."
- Discussion of the call of Truth, its claim on us, despite the cost.
- Edith Stein's reason for taking the name "Teresa."
- Discussion of patron saints and what it means to our daily lives.
- For younger children, discuss on simpler terms ideas such as complete love of God; our daily crosses; meaning of sacrifice; and how to make small but meaningful sacrifices for God.
- Definition of a martyr.
- Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta) was a philosopher and prolific writer. Her writings are available from ICS Publications. Of special note is her Essays on Woman.
- Catholic Culture's library contains two writings of Edith Stein:
- For more about Edith Stein, see Catholic Culture's Search Engine and type "Edith Stein".
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, in which the latter places his feast on August 9.
- Read about St. Romanus' statue in St. Peter's Colonnade