The soul of woman must therefore be expansive and open to all human beings;
it must be quiet so that no small weak flame will be extinguished by stormy winds;
warm so as not to benumb fragile buds;
clear, so that no vermin will settle in dark corners and recesses;
self-contained, so that no invasions from without can imperil the inner life;
empty of self, in order that extraneous life may have room in it;
finally, mistress of itself and also of its body,
so that the entire person is readily at the disposal of every call.
~ Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was born Edith Stein, a German Jew, on October 12, 1891. Her father died when she was very young and she later lost all faith in God. During World War I, she worked as a field nurse. In 1917, she was graduated with a doctorate degree in philosophy, summa cum laude.
Shortly after, she says, “my unbelief collapsed and Christ began to shine his light on me – Christ in the mystery of the Cross.” In 1922, she became a Catholic. She later wrote, “I had given up practising my Jewish religion when I was a 14-year-old girl and did not begin to feel Jewish again until I had returned to God.”
In 1934, she entered a Carmelite convent, making eternal profession in 1938. In 1942, the Nazis arrested and deported her with more than 900 other Jews. She was martyred at Auschwitz, probably on August 9.
Teresia Benedicta McCarthy was born in Massachusetts on August 9, 1985. In 1987, after she had ingested 19 times the lethal dose of Tylenol for her age/weight, she was rushed to the ER, then transferred to Massachusetts General in Boston. Specialists there declared her liver had been hopelessly damaged. Without a transplant, she would die.
The family decided to pray to Blessed Teresia Benedicta, aka Edith Stein. On March 24, 1987, doctors in Boston recorded on Benedicta’s medical chart, “This child has made a remarkable recovery.”
The events were rigorously investigated by the Vatican. The Jewish head of pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of several medical staff who agreed that they could in no way explain Benedicta’s recovery, testified to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
With this miracle, the Roman Catholic Church declared there was sufficient proof that God wanted us to know and honor Edith Stein as a Saint. Pope John Paul II officially canonized her October 11, 1998. Benedicta McCarthy attended the ceremony.