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Edith Stein

World Youth Day  

edith1.jpg (7752 byte)

          St. Edith Stein and St. Albert the Great, were nominated “Joint Patrons” of the World Youth Day in Cologne. Edith’s presence was felt at various times and circumstances.  First of all the Pope mentioned her several times; then, many meetings were dedicated to her, as well as prayer vigils, ways of the cross, an exhibition of photographs, a play, academic talks and, above all, Eucharistic celebrations. 

          The main place for her veneration was the convent of our sisters, in Vor den Siebenburgen Street, the site of the first foundation in 1637.  Even though the convent has been suppressed on several occasions and transferred to other locations in the city – for which reason Edith Stein had never lived in the present building – still this was the community that had accepted her and in which she lived until fleeing to Holland, on 31st December 1938.  Before leaving Cologne, however, she wanted to visit the primitive foundation, where she venerated the statue of “Our Lady of Peace”, titular of the convent, and prayed in the crypt before the tomb of the foundresses.  

           The Church of this community, during the World Youth Day, was converted into a place of perpetual adoration, and became the focal point for the many devotees of Edith Stein.  The Nuns, thanks to the generosity of the adjoining Max Planck Institute, were able to welcome many groups and offer them conferences in different languages. 

          But the most emotional event during these days was Saturday morning, 20th August.  On that day the Pope had invited to his private Eucharist, in the palace of the Archbishop, 20 representatives, one each, from the various Religious communities in the Archdiocese of Cologne, among whom were our own Carmelite Nuns.  The Prioress, Sr. Ancilla, insisted from the very beginning that at least one other Sister should participate from her community.  The request, given the particular circumstances, was granted.  Thus Sr. Teresa Margaret (Drügemöller), was able to go, the last of the Sisters from Cologne Carmel to have known our Saint personally; she, in fact, had been a novice with Edith Stein, and was with her the whole time that Edith had been in the monastery (14th October 1933 – 31st December 1938).  This meeting with the Pope, so intimate and personal, was the most beautiful present that Sr. Teresa could have wished for, and it happened to be her 95th birthday.  She presented the Pope with a pall and a purificator embroidered by herself and, taking advantage of the occasion, said to him: “I have a petition to request of you: I want you to declare Edith Stein a Doctor of the Church”. The Pope replied: “Everything should be done through the proper channels, but I will take into consideration your request”.  

          This request of Sr. Teresa Margaret is in harmony with all she has done for many years. It was she who promoted the cause of Edith Stein at a time when no one thought of it.  In fact, as early as the 1950’s she began to collect documents, letters and photographs, thus preparing the foundation for the present Edith Stein archive in Cologne Carmel.   

During Vespers that day the community publicly thanked “she who believed”. The Prioress, who had invited us to the meeting added: “We have been very impressed by the simplicity of the Holy Father and the way he welcomes people, not to mention by his deep interiority”.

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Updated 29 ott 2005  by OCD General House
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