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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mystery Saint

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? 

Joe Pacuska

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.


Anonymous said...

Sister, I need a saint to help with our ant infestation. Can you help me find one? Thanks!

Paige said...

St. Edith Stein is my confirmation saint! I identified so much with her story and she was really an amazing woman. She "read" herself into The Church after studying the soul in university and reading St. Teresa of Avila. She read the entire catechism and went to a priest and told him she wanted to be Catholic. He told her she would need some preparations and she basically said "quiz me." She actually ended up causing a huge rift between herself and her family when she converted, and both she and her sister, Rose, who also became a Carmelite nun died at Auschwitz. Her supposed last words were something to the effect of "let us go die with our people." I would say that she was a martyr for the Church, and paved the way for people like Sister Rosalind Moss today.

Allison said...

I had to comment on this post. This sounds exactly like the mural at St. Timothy in Mesa, AZ. I used to work there. If you ask in the office or library they will give you a print out that lists every saint on the mural. Also, on their website, there is information about the mural. Of, and as usual, Sister Mary Martha is right! That sounds just like the dipiction of Edith Stein.

Anonymous said...

Who is Sister Rosalind Moss?

Paige said...

Here's a little link that sums up who she is in a nutshell. She just relocated her order to Tulsa, OK.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sister,

I would like to know which saint i need to pray for cysts appearing on the body?

Anonymous said...

Sr. Teresa Benedicta and a lot of other Jewish religious were rounded up in retaliation after the Dutch bishops denounced the Nazi regime in an open letter.

I don't think any of the bishops themselves managed to get martyred over it. But delegation is an important part of leadership.

Unknown said...

@anonymous...You mentioned the bishops who spoke out against the Nazi regime...On the Vatican website, it says, "Lion of Munster'
In his famous speeches, Bishop von Galen spoke out against the State confiscation of Church property and the programmatic euthanasia carried out by the regime.

The clarity and incisiveness of his words and the unshakable fidelity of Catholics in the Diocese of M√ľnster embarrassed the Nazi regime, and on 10 October 1943 the Bishop's residence was bombed." He escaped and later became Cardinal. He was declared Blessed and is buried at Cologne Cathedral. He certainly lived his motto, "Neither praise nor threats will distance me from God."