Novena to Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
Day 2 – Sunday, August 2nd, 1942
Carmel of Echt, Holland
What happened that day in the Carmel of Echt, is now known the world over; but the circumstances need to be recalled.
The Catholic Bishops of Holland had issued a joint protest against the deportation of Dutch Jews by the Nazis, which they instructed was to be read out at every Mass in all churches on Sunday, July 26th. Prior to that, the Bishops had procured an exemption from deportation for Catholics of Jewish origin, from the Nazi authorities, who accorded the privilege on condition that the persons concerned had belonged to a Christian organization before January 1941.
The pastoral letter of the Bishops created apprehension about the possibility of a Nazi reaction; it was soon forthcoming. On August 2nd, Christians of Jewish origin of every religious community in the country were arrested and carried off by the Gestapo. The General-Commissar Schmidt announced publicly, that he was taking reprisals for the pastoral letter of the 26th July. He specified, saying:
“We are compelled to regard the Catholic Jews as our worst enemies and consequently see to their deportation to the East with all possible speed.”
The savage reaction of the Nazis to the pastoral letter of the Dutch Bishops is what motivated His Holiness, Pius XII, to withhold and destroy his own protest which he had already composed. If such be the reaction to the protest of the Dutch Bishops, he argued, what might not be the reaction to a protest of the Pope. On his orders, the monasteries and convents throughout Italy had taken in Jewish refugees fleeing the persecution of the Germans. The Vatican itself was fill to overflowing with Jews who had come to its doors seeking refuge.
In execution of the decision of General-Commissar Schmidt, two S.S. men turned up at the Carmel of Echt to carry off our Saint Edith and her sister, Rosa, in a police-van.
The deportation of our Martyr and her sister was an act, undertaken in hatred of the faith, as a reprisal for the condemnation of the Nazi persecution of the Jews by the Catholic Hierarchy of Holland; that our Martyr was of Jewish origin, would not in itself, have furnished a sufficient cause for her deportation and death.
“Turning to the Chief Priests, the officers of the temple police and the elders who had come to seize him, he said: ‘Do you take me for a bandit that you have come out with swords and cudgels to arrest me? Day after day, when I was in the temple with you, you kept your hands off me. But this is your moment – the hour when darkness reigns!’ Then they arrested him and led him away.” Luke 22: 52-53
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
(Any suitable prayer may be said here)
Saint Edith, Pray For Us!