Lord, send us only as much as we can bear.St. Edith Stein
Remembering the Sabbath prayer of her great-grandmother Ernestine Burchard
Week by week, usually on Friday morning, there was a knock at the door of my cell. At my “Come in,” Sr. Benedicta would enter with a letter addressed to “Frau Auguste Stein, Breslau, Michaelisstrasse 38.”
These few words summed up everything that was dearest on earth to Edith Stein: Her mother’s house, her hometown, and the name of the woman who had brought her into the world.
Edith Stein traveled widely, saw her own era with a clear vision, and formed her judgment and intellect through contact with many people, but it was her home that was, and remained, the soil that nourished her heart.
While that house on Michaelisstrasse was not actually the place of her birth, it was the focus of family life and the place to which Edith returned for vacations regularly.
It was a solid stone-built house with a plain and unadorned exterior. The whole house, down to the smallest articles of furniture, bore evidence of a highly cultured and decorously stable pattern of life.[The vast spaces of the living rooms, with elaborate parquet floors and stucco-decorated ceilings, were too big to be really comfortable.
This was the home of Frau Auguste Stein, née Courant; here it was her outlook, taste, and spirit that reigned. Frau Stein was Jewish and proud of the fact. She set an irreproachable example in her Jewish observance, and saw to it that her children strictly followed her example. And so a reverent fear of God formed a deeply serious background to the children’s natural gaiety.
Frau Stein had not found it at all easy to achieve this comfortable and cultured lifestyle for her family. She had been thrown early into the hard struggle for survival. Her marriage with Siegfried Stein had been cut short. Edith, the youngest of her seven children, was only three years old when the sudden death of [Siegfried]—he died of sunstroke when away on business—left [Frau Stein] to take care of the family and the growing lumber business.
Sister Teresia Renata Posselt, O.C.D.
Chapter 1, Home
Frau Auguste Courant Stein gave birth to Edith—”the youngest of her seven children”—on this date, 12 October 1891 in Breslau.
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.
Stein, E, Gelber, L, Leuven R, & Koeppel J 1986, Life in a Jewish Family: her unfinished autobiographical account, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Featured image: The Stein Family in 1895: (Back row, left to right) Arno, Else, Herr Siegfried Stein (d. 1893), Elfriede, Paul; (Front row, left to right) Rosa, Frau Auguste Courant Stein, Edith, Erna. Image credit: Discalced Carmelites.