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Edith Stein, known as St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, in 1938-1939 (CNA/Public Domain)

Edith Stein could be declared a doctor of the Church with the title “doctor veritatis” or “doctor of truth”, following a petition from the Discalced Carmelites. Source: CNA.

Pope Francis received an official request from the superior general of the Discalced Carmelites, Fr Miguel Márquez Calle, on April 18 in a private audience at the Vatican to recognise the theological legacy of the saint who was martyred in Auschwitz.

If accepted, Stein, also known by her religious name St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, could become the fifth woman to be declared a doctor of the Church, a title that recognises a substantial contribution to the Church’s theology and moral life.

With the petition, the Vatican Dicastery for the Causes of Saints can officially begin the required process to grant Stein the title.

The Carmelites first launched an international commission to gather the necessary documentation required by the Vatican in 2022, a year that marked both the 100th anniversary of Stein’s baptism and the 80th anniversary of her martyrdom.

A title that was proposed for her at the time was “doctor veritatis” because of her relentless intellectual pursuit of truth, which after her conversion she recognised in the person of Jesus Christ.

Stein was born in 1891 into a Jewish family in what is now Wrocław, southwestern Poland. 

After declaring herself to be an atheist at the age of 20, she went on to earn a doctorate in philosophy. She was baptised Catholic at the age of 30 in 1922 and later joined the Carmelites, where she took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. 

On August 2, 1942, she was arrested along with her sister Rosa, who had also become a Catholic, and the members of her religious community.

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross died in the Auschwitz concentration camp seven days later on August 9, 1942. St John Paul II canonised her in 1998 and proclaimed her a co-patroness of Europe the following year.


Could Edith Stein be declared the next doctor of the Church? (By Courtney Mares, CNA)