Carmelite Contemporary of Edith Stein Met Pope in Cologne

Asked Him to Declare the Saint a Doctor of the Church

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COLOGNE, Germany, AUG. 26, 2005 (Zenit.org).- While in Cologne, Benedict XVI met with the last living religious to have personally known Edith Stein, who lived much of her consecrated life in that city’s Carmelite convent.

During the meeting last Saturday, Sister Teresa Margaret Drügemöller asked the Pope “to declare Edith Stein a Doctor of the Church.” Stein, also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was martyred in Auschwitz in 1942.

The Holy Father replied: “Everything should be done through the proper channels, but I will take your request into consideration.”

The meeting took place when the Pope invited 20 representatives of the men and women religious to his Mass in the archbishop’s residence.

Among the guests was the prioress of Cologne’s Carmel convent, a Sister Ancilla, who insisted that at least one other nun of her community should be invited — Sister Teresa Margaret, a friend of Stein during their novitiate and the time she spent in Cologne’s Carmel, from Oct. 14, 1933, to Dec. 31, 1938.

“This meeting with the Pope [was] … the most beautiful present that Sister Teresa could have wished for, and it happened to be her 95th birthday,” the Order of Discalced Carmelites said in a statement.

Archive

Sister Teresa Margaret was among the first to promote Stein’s cause of beatification. As early as the 1950s she began to collect documents, letters and photographs, thus preparing the foundation for the Stein archive in the Cologne Carmel.

News of the papal encounter was announced by the prioress herself, who said in a letter: “We have been very impressed by the simplicity of the Holy Father and the way he welcomes people, not to mention his deep interiority.”

Stein, or Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross as she is known, was one of the patrons of last week’s World Youth Day.

Benedict XVI mentioned her in four of his official addresses during his visit to Germany. There were also World Youth Day meetings dedicated to the canonized Carmelite martyr, as well as prayer vigils, a photo exhibition, a play, academic talks and, above all, Eucharistic celebrations.

But she was remembered in a special way in the Carmelite convent in Vor den Siebenburgen Street, the site of the first foundation in 1637.

The convent was suppressed on several occasions and transferred to other locations in the city — Stein never lived in the present building — but it is still this community that had accepted her and in which she lived until she fled to the Netherlands on Dec. 31, 1938.

Before leaving Cologne, 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 founders.

During World Youth Day, the church of this community was converted into a place of perpetual adoration, and became the focal point for Stein devotees.

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