Cath. Remembrance Day is the 9th of August
The “wise Edith,” as she is called by relatives, grows up in an atmosphere shaped by the faithful, law-abiding religiosity of her mother. The girl attends high school for a few years, but breaks off this school education at the age of fourteen on her own.
(Curriculum vitae of the municipality Paderborn)
The adolescents start to worry about ideological questions, they have doubts about faith and feel that they are atheists. “I quit praying quite deliberately and of my
own free will.” She goes to Hamburg to her married sister there, but comes back after a year and takes private lessons to make up for the missed.
She is regarded as a gifted student and obtains highest grades. (Still, she writes, “From the early years I knew it was more important to be good than smart.”
In 1911 she lives in Breslau (Wroclaw) and has a brilliant high school diploma. She attended the grammar school of the Victoria School in Breslau for three years and subsequently enrolled at the University of Wroclaw in the subjects of psychology, German studies and history.
In 1913 she moved to the University of Göttingen, where she studied philosophy, history and
German studies. With great seriousness she has made her career choice, she wants to study philosophy above all. “We are in the world to serve humanity. The best way to do that is to do what you bring the right equipment for. “In Göttingen, she meets Edmund Husserl, the founder of” Phenomenology, “who teaches how to get to grips with everyday life. Encounters with philosophers – such as Husserl, Reinach, Scheler, u.a. – bring her anew the world of faith; they give her the sense of the transcendent, of religious experiences and decisions. “It was like a first glimpse into a whole new world.” Follow more years of searching; painful life experiences let them grow inwardly.
In 1915 she passes her state exam in philosophical propaedeutics, history and German. After that she immediately goes as a volunteer Red Cross helper in an epidemic hospital on the Eastern Front. After the end of the First World War, Edith takes a trip to Jericho and returns to Germany strengthened, as soon as she completes a teacher training in Breslau.
In 1918, the young woman Stein traveled to Freiburg with Edmund Husserl, who had received a call to the University of Freiburg, to become his assistant. Here she is doing her doctorate in the same year. phil. with “summa cum laude”. After her d
eparture from Freiburg she stays several times in Wroclaw and Göttingen, where she tries to habilitate – unsuccessfully, because she has no opportunity as a woman.
In 1920 she is back home in Wroclaw; Here she gives lectures at the Volkshochschule and gives private philosophical courses. Edith is in a mental crisis, she does not know what to do next. In this life situation, she finds the biography of St. Teresa of Avila in her hands. She reads the book in one night and realizes for herself: “That’s the truth”. She decides to convert.
On January 1, 1922, she is baptized and admitted to the Catholic Church.
Through the mediation of the Speyer general vicar she becomes a teacher at the Dominican nuns of St. Magdalena in Speyer, where she teaches until 1931. During her schooldays, she continues to study translation and philosophical work until she gives up her teaching position and makes new attempts to habilitate. As a woman, she gets but this again no chance.
After other prospects have shatt
ered on a scientific activity, she accepted in 1932 an offer to work as a lecturer at the German Institute for Scientific Education in Münster. In the past years she has become known as a speaker at educational study days and congresses at home and abroad (Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Paris ……) and has received much recognition. “It’s basically always a small, simple truth that I have to say: how to start living by the hand of the Lord.”
When the National Socialists came to power in 1933, she lost her position.
Shortly after her change of faith she expresses the desire to become a Carmelite. Friends and acquaintances, however, initially advise her against it. Even with regard to her mother, who has already almost broken the baptism of the heart, she moves her plan again and again.
On October 14, 1933, however, she then enters the Cologne Carmel, after her real life has accumulated more and more inward. On April 15, 1934 she is clothed and chooses the name “Teresa Benedicta a Cruce”. “I am now in the place that I belonged to long ago.”.
On April 21, 1938, the Eternal Vows of Sister Benedic