St Edith Stein healing oil
The St Edith Stein healing oil is dedicated to the German Jewish philosopher. She converted to Roman Catholicism and became a Discalced Carmelite nun. She is canonised as a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church. Also, she is one of six co-patron saints of Europe.
She was born into an observant Jewish family, but was an atheist by her teenage years. Moved by the tragedies of World War I, in 1915 she took lessons to become a nursing assistant. She worked in an infectious diseases hospital. Edith completed her doctoral thesis from the University of Göttingen in 1916. She obtained an assistant ship at the University of Freiburg.
Edith is baptised
She was drawn to the Catholic faith after she read St Teresa of Avila’s books.. She was baptized on 1 January 1922 into the Roman Catholic Church. At that point, she wanted to become a Discalced Carmelite nun. However, she was dissuaded by her spiritual mentors. She then taught at a Catholic school of education in Speyer. As a result of the Nazi government in April 1933 she had to quit her teaching position.
Discalced Carmelite nun and martyr
Stein entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery Our Lady of Peace in Cologne in 1933. She took the religious name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. There she wrote her metaphysical book Finite and Eternal Being. The book attempted to combine the philosophies of St. Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus and Husserl.
To avoid the growing Nazi threat, her Order transferred Rosa and herself to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. There she wrote “Studies on John of the Cross: The Science of the Cross”.
Stein’s move to Echt prompted her to be more devout and even more observant of the Carmelite rule. Even prior to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Stein believed she would not survive the war. She wrote the Prioress to request her permission to “allow her to offer herself to the heart of Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement for true peace”. Also, she made a will. Her fellow sisters would later recount how Stein began “quietly training herself for life in a concentration camp. She did this by enduring cold and hunger” after the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940.
Edith sent to Auschwitz
Ultimately, she was not safe in the Netherlands. The Dutch Bishops’ Conference had a public statement read in all the churches of the nation on 20 July 1942 condemning Nazi racism. In a retaliatory response on 26 July 1942 the Reichskommissar of the Netherlands, Arthur Seyss-Inquart ordered the arrest of all Jewish converts who had previously been spared. Along with two hundred and forty-three baptized Jews living in the Netherlands, Stein was arrested by the SS on 2 August 1942.
Stein and her sister Rosa were imprisoned at the concentration camps of Amersfoort and Westerbork before being deported to Auschwitz. A Dutch official at Westerbork was so impressed by her sense of faith and calm, he offered her an escape plan. Stein vehemently refused his assistance, stating, “If somebody intervened at this point and took away her chance to share in the fate of her brothers and sisters, that would be utter annihilation.”
On 7 August 1942, early in the morning, 987 Jews were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. It was probably on 9 August that Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, her sister, and many more of her people were killed in a mass gas chamber.
St Edith Stein healing oil/Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.