Edith Stein, the first Jew to be declared a saint by the Catholic Church, was born in Breslau, Germany, on Yom Kippur, 1891. Her father died when she was two and her mother, a devout Jew, raised her and her six siblings. Stein earned a doctorate in philosophy at the University of G÷ttingen. In 1921 she read the autobiography of Teresa of Avila, which drew her into a personal relationship with Jesus.
Stein taught, wrote and lectured and was a leading voice in the Catholic Women’s Movement in Germany. In 1933, when anti-Semitic laws made it impossible for Stein to continue, she entered the Carmelite Order in Cologne, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
After Kristallnacht (pogrom in Nazi Germany, November 9, 1938), the nuns sent Stein to a convent in the Netherlands, where her sister, Rosa, later joined her. When the Nazis began deporting Dutch Jews to the concentration camps, the Catholic Church protested. The Nazis retaliated by ordering the deportation of Jewish converts to Catholicism.
On August 2, 1942, the Gestapo seized Edith and Rosa. As the two left the convent, Edith told her sister, “Come, let us go for our people.” They died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz on August 9.