Edith Stein, pictured as a student in 1913-1914. / Public Domain.
Rome Newsroom, Jan 19, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Edith Stein’s baptism in the Catholic Church.
The city where the philosopher turned saint was born has launched a Year of Edith Stein to celebrate the life and legacy of the woman who was martyred at Auschwitz.
Stein was born in 1891 into a Jewish family in what is now Wrocław, southwestern Poland. The city was then known as Breslau and located in the German Empire.
After declaring herself to be an atheist at the age of 20, she went on to earn a doctorate in philosophy.
She decided to convert to Catholicism after spending a night reading the autobiography of the 16th-century Carmelite nun St. Teresa of Avila while staying at a friend’s house in 1921.
“When I had finished the book,” she later recalled. “I said to myself: This is the truth.”
Stein was baptized on Jan. 1, 1922, at the age of 30. She took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross when she became a novice Carmelite nun 12 years later.
Wrocław Auxiliary Bishop Jacek Kiciński inaugurated the year on Jan. 9, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, in the parish church where Stein used to come to pray.
“We look today at St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein. One hundred years ago she was baptized and 100 years ago she was immersed in the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Kiciński said.
“Coming out of the baptismal waters, she took very strongly to heart the words from today’s Gospel: ‘This is my beloved Son, listen to him.’”
Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), pictured in 1938-1939. Public Domain.
Ten years after Stein entered the Carmelite convent, she was arrested along with her sister Rosa, who had also become a Catholic, and the members of her religious community.
She had just finished writing a study of St. John of the Cross entitled “The Science of the Cross.”
To mark the year, the city council of Wrocław has also set up an exhibit in the Edith Stein House, the saint’s family home which is now a conference center and a space for interreligious dialogue.