This module is part of the Distance Learning Website of the Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland (CIBI)


This online module attempts to present some aspects of Carmelite spirituality in Edith Stein’s life and thought. However, these aspects are also essential for the whole Catholic Church and the entire Christianity, as they deal with one of the most important elements of Christian theology and spirituality, which is, as Edith Stein said, the knowledge of the cross. This theology and spirituality was especially important in Edith Stein’s life and though because it relates to one of the most crucial events in the human history: the Jewish Holocaust during the Second World War. In this module, we will try to look at some aspects of this event from the perspective of the Christian and Carmelite spirituality.  

The module contains five units, which focus on the following topics:

  1. Historical and cultural background of Edith Stein’s life;

  2. Edith Stein’s biography;

  3. Some thoughts on the cross of Christ in Christian mysticism and theology;

  4. Edith Stein’s spirituality of the cross;

  5. “Nach Auschwitz” (after Auschwitz) theology and spirituality of the cross.

By the end of the module these five units should have helped you to have:

  1. an understanding of the cultural, historical, political and religious situation in Europe and Germany during the Nazi period;

  2. an understanding of Edith Stein’s intellectual and spiritual growth that led her from Judaism and agnosticism to faith in Jesus Christ and finally to the Carmelite Order;

  3. an understanding and knowledge of Edith Stein’s approach to the cross of Christ;

  4. an understanding of the spiritual, moral and intellectual struggles in Jewish and Christian life expressed in “after Auschwitz” theology and spirituality.

Recommended Reading: (Please don’t feel you must read all of these but it would be a good idea to read at least one as background to the module.)

Burleigh, Michael. The Racial State: Germany 1933 – 1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Crysdale, Cynthia S. W. Embracing Travail: Retrieving the Cross Today. New York: Continuum, 1999.

Davies, Norman. Europe. A History. London: Pimlico, 1997.

Fabrègues, Jean de. Edith Stein: Philosopher, Carmelite Nun, Holocaust Martyr. Staten Island, NY: Alba House, 1965.

Gilbert Martin, The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War. London: H. Holt, 1987.

Graef, Hilda C. The Scholar and the Cross: The Life and Works of Edith Stein. New York, NY: Longmans, Green, 1955; Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1955.

Herbstrith, Waltraud. Edith Stein: A Biography. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1992.

Matheson, Peter. The Third Reich and the Christian Churches: A Documentary Account ofChristian Resistance and Complicity during the Nazi Era. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1981.

Mosley, Joanne. Edith Stein – Woman of Prayer: Her Life and Ideals. Leominster: Gracewing, 2004.

Steigmann-Gall, Richard. The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919–1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Stein, Edith. Collected Works of Edith Stein. Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, (1986 - ).

Vol. 1: Life in a Jewish Family. Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1986.

Vol. 3: On the Problem of Empathy. Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1989.

Vol. 4: The Hidden Life. Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1992.

Vol. 5: Self-Portrait in Letters. Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1993.

Vol. 6: Science of the Cross. Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1998.

Course Tutor: Robert Opala OCD


The course is divided into 5 units of input and, at the end, you may complete a Questionnaire, write a Learning Journal, or write an Essay.

Once posted, each unit will be available until the end of the module. The dates on which each of the units, and the other material for this course is available in the calendar in the Student Section.



Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 5


Learning Journal

Essay titles


Please click HERE to access the STUDENT SECTION for module start and end dates

From the date corresponding to the relevant Monday (see main web page of, you can click on the relevant unit to access it. Each module includes links to other internet sites of various kinds related to the material being covered.

    Once you have successfully accessed and studied the material in each module and received the Essay titles and the questionnaire, pleace complete either the Questionnaire, write a Learning Journal, or write an Essay based on one of the Essay titles given, and return it to to the course administrator: [email protected]


Copyright: CIBI holds the copyright to this material (text, graphic and other); distribution to family or friends, or publication (including on internet) of any part of the material is not permitted without the CIBI ’s explicit written permission.