Edith Stein (1891–1942), a brilliant philosopher and spiritual writer, was a German Jewish convert to Roman Catholicism who would go on to become a nun of the Carmelite Order before she was executed by the Nazi government at Auschwitz. Considered a modern-day martyr by Catholics, she was canonized as a martyr and a saint by Pope John Paul II in 1998.
Her search for truth led to a desire to study with the acclaimed German philosopher Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology. She eventually pursued a doctorate under Husserl, completing her dissertation, entitled “On the Problem of Empathy,” under his guidance.
She converted to Catholicism in 1922, shortly after reading the autobiography of the sixteenth-century Spanish mystic Teresa of Avila. In 1933, she authored a letter asking Pope Pius XI to publicly denounce the Nazis, and, shortly thereafter, she entered monastic life, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross after her spiritual mentor. In August of 1942, while residing in the Netherlands, she was taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Nazis, where she died in a gas chamber.