Our beloved late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, beatified St. Teresa Benedicta, canonized her, and then declared her to be a Co-Patroness of Europe.
She held a special place in the Pope’s heart, obviously: The Nazis killed her in the Pope’s homeland, under the brutal regime which he himself endured as a young man. And, like the Pope’s oldest friend from childhood, with whom he liked to play ping-pong, among other things—like Jerzy Kluger, St. Teresa Benedicta was Jewish.
Before St. Teresa Benedicta became Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, she was called Edith Stein. She was a prominent philosopher who had rejected the Jewish faith she grew up with. Then she found Christ, or rather Christ found her. She became a Catholic and a Carmelite nun.
When the bishops where Sister Teresa Benedicta lived protested against the Nazi abuses, the Nazis retaliated by arresting Teresa and sending her to Auschwitz. The saint willingly died with her brother- and sister-Jews, out of love for the crucified Christ, her Jewish Savior, Whom she loved above all.
When Pope John Paul canonized St. Teresa Benedicta, he declared that her Memorial every year should serve as an occasion for the Church to remember the vicious evil of the Holocaust.
Today we pray for all the victims of Nazi violence, that they might rest in peace. And we re-dedicate ourselves to standing up for the universal brotherhood of all mankind.
The Pope said, when he instituted this feast day: “We must all stand together for human dignity. There is only one human family.”