The parish where I normally attend 7:30 AM Mass decided to move it to noon during Lent, so I've been attending morning Mass at a different parish lately.
They have a beautiful mural depicting about twenty saints gazing down upon the altar from the wall above. They're mostly 19th and 20th century saints with lots of nuns and priests, and the artist made it relatively easy to identify them. Saint Faustina's easy because she's holding the picture of the Divine Mercy. Saint Maximillian Kolbe is wearing prison garb. Saint Pio of Pietrelcina is wearing the brown habit of the Capuchins and the stigmata are easily visible. And Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is easy to identify by the black bonnet she is so often depicted wearing.
But there is one nun that baffles me. She is wearing the traditional habit, but she is holding what appears to be a platter inscribed with the Star of David. I've searched myself blue in the face on the Internet, but can't find any reference to a saintly nun whose symbol is a platter with the Star of David.
Can you help?
That must be Edith Stein, also known as Sister Teresia Benedicta of the Cross. She was a German Jewish girl who converted to Catholicism at age 31 and became a Carmelite nun.
She's a bit controversial, however. If I remember correctly, she was canonized because she was considered a martyr by Pope John Paul II (and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints). She died in the gas chamber at Auchswitz concentration camp. The controversy lies in why she died in a concentration camp. The Church feels that she died a martyr to the Catholic church because she was brought to Auchswitz because she was a nun who was an outspoken writer on the evils of the Nazi Party. Therefore she died because she was upholding the teachings of the Church and that makes her a martyr for the faith. A lot of other people believe she was brought there (and died) because she was a Jew. She had a lot in common with Jesus and the Apostles.
Whatever. As I understand her story, and how the Church hid her from the Nazis and why, both things are true.
She is a saint in heaven, we know that, because she would have had to have two miracles to be canonized. So, end of story.