Quote of the day, 28 January: St. Edith Stein

…on Thursday [26 March] I took leave of St. Magdalena’s. St. Thomas [Aquinas] is no longer satisfied with my spare time, he demands all of me.

Saint Edith Stein
Letter 87 to Sr. Callista Kopf, O.P., Würzburg (excerpt)
Beuron Archabbey, Saturday 28 March 1931

On the threshold of Holy Week in 1931, Edith Stein writes from Beuron Archabbey to her good friend the Dominican Sister Callista Kopf. As her biographer Sr. Teresia Renata Posselt, O.C.D. indicates, two days earlier Edith departed St. Magdalena’s, the Dominican girls’ school in Speyer, Germany, where she had been teaching for roughly eight years. She began there as a newly-baptized Catholic who needed a safe space to continue her mystagogia without sacrificing her life as a scholar.

But the Archabbot at Beuron, who provided seasoned spiritual accompaniment to Edith, persuaded her to give up her modest position at St. Magdalena’s so that she might pursue her translation of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Quaestiones Disputatae de Veritate [Disputed Questions on Truth] and advance other scholarly pursuits.

The editors of Sister Teresia Renata’s biography of Edith Stein note the following concerning her translation of Aquinas, which demanded more than her “spare time”:

She produced a translation in two volumes of The Disputed Questions on Truth of St. Thomas Aquinas, but in a novel way.

She set out in her two volumes both a modern German rendition of the work of the medieval giant in philosophy, inserted many of her own interlinear notes, and added a list (fifty pages long in the 1950s Edith Stein Werke edition) of useful terms she translated to assist modern readers in understanding and rendering better the thought of St. Thomas. By creating it, she built a bridge to more modern philosophical terminology.

Not all Thomists were pleased with her rendition, and the Dominican Order organized another translation by some of its scholars (even with Edith teaching in a Dominican Sisters’ school).

This video from the Diocese of Speyer features the cell occupied by St. Edith Stein during her years as a teacher at St. Magdalena’s School in Speyer and the small chapel where she would spend hours in prayer. It is narrated by Sister Raphaela, O.P., who is St. Magdalena’s Edith Stein expert. Closed-caption subtitles are provided by YouTube, with auto-translate in English and other languages also available. Click the settings button to change the language of the caption subtitles.

Posselt, T 2005, Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite, translated from the German by Batzdorff S, Koeppel J, and Sullivan J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

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