Call her "Teresa Benedicta of the Cross"!


This may a bit of a “soap-box” but a justified one (but anyone on a soap box says that). As I find myself delving into Carmelite spirituality, I am at my wits end for why people refer to the great philosopher, virgin, and saint, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, as Edith Stein. It’s not good in general but especially for members of the church (even worse, her own Carmelite family) to call her by her Jewish name rather than her religious or even baptismal name.
There are multiple reasons she is referred to as Edith Stein by others. 1) She has many published academic works as Edith Stein and penned them as (obviously) “Edith Stein”. 2) Her name, both given and surname, are traditionally Jewish and she was killed primarily on account of her Jewish bloodline. But are those reasons justified?
This is what people must remember when talking about this saint: she was murdered a Catholic nun! Not only did she leave the Jewish religion of her youth for it’s completion in the One, True Church, but she left a life of academic prestige and material possessions for “the one thing necessary.” She took the name “Teresa” at baptism becoming known in the Church from the moment of her “birth by water and the Holy Spirit” as Teresa. Later she takes on the name Benedicta and the title “of the Cross.” The Cross is not only critical in Carmelite spirituality but truly defined who this saint was. She left all earthly glory behind her that she might worthily exclaim with St. Paul, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal. 6:14)"
I have placed this in the Traditional Catholicism category because the Church in her liturgy refers to her as Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. This is the case with other saints as well whom we ought to revere properly such as St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) and St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (of Lisieux). Moreover, we do not call other religious by their birth names. St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) is not called Francesco. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) is not called Anjezë. St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe is not called Raymund. We ought to give due reference for the sacrifice of consecration by which God set them apart in their supernatural vocations. Even with popes we ought not refer to them (unless regarding prior publications or giving biographical reports) by any name but their papal names. St. John Paul II is not called St. Karol Wojtyła. St. John XXIII is not called St. Angelo Roncalli. St. Pius X is not called St. Giuseppe Sarto.
Why should we not call her St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross?


Seriously? I love Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Edith Stein, I mean. :slight_smile:

I would like to read some of her writings.


Um…I call her St. Edith Stein. That was her given name, that’s what most people know her by, and it is surely ok to use it.


Agree.I did a group study of her life several years ago through my ENDOW women’s study group at church.She is a saint for our day and a very compelling life story.


She’s a Discalced Carmelite. Everyone knows they’re the best.



What’s wrong with the Sisters of Mercy, who established a lot of schools and hospitals around here?



St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross :slight_smile:


I think she will become another doctor of the Church.


In order to to designated as a “doctor of the church”, the individual has to have made significant contributions in the fields of theology and doctrine- like Aquinas or Augustine of Hippo.


St. Therese of Lisieux is a doctor of the Church. I would imagine that the requirement is interpreted rather broadly, and this would keep St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in the running.


I think to an extent, you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. Yes, she took another name when she professed. If people are more familiar with her name as Edith, what actual harm is there? Likely, they don’t recall her professed name.


It was not just her religious name, but her baptismal name. Her Christian name is not Edith but Teresa.


In order to build one another up, I’d like to know why you say “Seriously?” I suppose I could have intended satire though if I would say my post does not exactly convey satire. If it does, perhaps I have a future job at “Eye of the Tiber” or Catholic Memes. I’d like to know how the objections raised are unreasonable? Thank you.


Well, your objections are not so much unreasonable. I just think there are bigger fish to fry, more important things to worry about.

Plus, it always rubs people kind of the wrong way to say to them, “Don’t do this.” when it’s not a moral imperative. It’s kind of like saying, don’t put krutons on your salad to other people.

You do make a point and it is a little unusual that people call her by her name before religious life. I think the way you presented it was less than ideal. It would have been better if you posed it as a question than telling people, “Don’t do this.” Because that’s not really in line with a discussion forum.

I like Edith Stein. I think she is more well known by that name and so maybe that name stuck more because she is more easily recognized by that name. She was a well known philosopher in her own right before religious life, plus she entered religious life rather late.

But yes, the “seriously” was not really necessary. So I apologize if i hurt your feelings. I was just saying by that word, I think you’re making a big deal out of something small and it’s not really for you to tell us not do something unless it’s a moral matter than it is more acceptable.

I realize it’s probably just the way you express yourself and a personality trait. But yes, I could have been a little more sensitive in how I responded to your OP.

The thing is that she is honored and esteemed. We’re not disrespecting her by callinig her Edith Stein, though it seems you believe that we are.


Well, some people call her St. Therese of Lisieux, some call her Therese Martin, and some call her the Little Flower. Almost nobody calls her St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

Vox populi, vox Dei…

But yes, I assume it’s because Edith Stein was the name by which she was longest known in the world, and under which she became famous. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is her name too, but it’s not the name you’d find her old books published under, if you were in a rare books store.


True! But that is technically her religious name. :slight_smile: She had a strong devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. (But I don’t know much about it myself. Maybe I will go look.)


I don’t believe it is intentional disrespect at all. However, within religious communities it is not okay to refer to each other by previous names. Families often call religious by their name in the world, while it’s born kindly it is sliggtly saddening for religious who know that these people don’t quite grasp the gravity of religious profession and are more attached to who they were rather than who they are. The old person is dead and one is known as a new person whereby profession strips herself of “the old man and puts on the garments of Christ.” If St. Teresa Benedicta was standing before me and I called her Edith Stein, she would receive it with much humility and charity but surely it would not be what she wants. Can I say that absolutely? No. But I can say absolutely that she would very happy to be called Teresa Benedicta. Is it not then at least logically preferable to refer to her by this title?
A mentality which is not uncommon is forgetting that saints have been raised to the altar for public veneration by the Church who has named them among the saints. These names are the ones proclaimed at the formal declaration of canonization and within the Most Holy Sacrafice of the Mass. Does it not seem that when invoking the saint it is spiritually preferable to address them as Holy Mother Church does? As I see it, there is a benefit in calling the saint by the name used by the Church as one expresses a unity of Heart with the Church, especially when one forgoes an attachment to calling them by some other name with no purpose. “It’s because I like the name Edith Stein. The name just jives better” doesn’t seem like the superior choice when there are truly good reasons to use the name in which she was canonized.


It’s true. Almost nobody calls her St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, but the Liturgical Calendar and the “Bull of Canonization of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face” does. Her name is often shortened by removing her secondary devotion (as there is a hierarchy of patronage in religious names) to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Calling her the other titles you mentioned are fine, but her full name more comprehensively synthesizes her spiritual life. Calling her “Litte Flower” is obviously a devotional title (nickname) and (hopefully) no one believes that is her actual name like how the Tower of Ivory’s name is actually Mary.
The point of bringing up St. Teresa of the Child Jesus was not meant to condemn referring to her as St. Thérèse of Liseux but that fact that her Carmel is in Liseux is less significant than her religious Devotional Names (Child Jesus and Holy Face) and that referring to her as such may assist in reminding us that we ought to delve into the spiritual significance of those devotions in order to conprehend the saint more fully.
You mentioning the fame of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is interesting because most people calling her Edith Stein are not talking about her “famous publications” as philosophers but they are referring to her in light of her sanctity (ie her conversion where in baptism she changed her name and in religion changed it once more. Had she not converted, become a nun, and died a martyr, I’d image extremely few Catholics would know of her save the some of the philosophers. So if we nearly entirely know of her philosophical work because of her sanctity should not the emphasis (assisted by her name) be focused around that conversion and taking the veil and dying a bride of Christ?


I’d say it’s more like saying, “Kiss the ring of the bishop rather than shaking his hand.” It bears greater witness to the spiritual reality of apostolic succession when the bishop is not treated like Joe Schmoe. Even if Joe Schmoe is really holy, he is not a bishop. Could you shake the bishop’s hand? Of course and he wouldn’t be (God willing) offended but there is a lost opportunity for witnessing to the greater good.

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