monastery of Saint Magdalen
1228 - today

A brief description.

The members of certain religious communities of penitent women who desired to reform their lives are named Magdalens or White Ladies from the colour of their garb. Rudolph of Worms is the traditional founder of the Magdalens in Germany (Mon. Germ. Script., XVII, 234), where they were in existence early in the thirteenth century, as attested by Bulls of Gregory IX and Innocent IV (1243-54), granting them important privileges.
Among the earliest foundations in Germany were those at Naumburg-on-the Queis (1217), and Speyer (1226). Gregory IX, in a letter to Rudolph, prescribed for the penitents the Rule of St. Augustine, which was adopted by most of the Magdalens, though many of the German houses later affiliated themselves to the Franciscan or Dominican Orders. Institutions of Magdalens still exist, e.g. at Lauban (founded 1320) and Studenz, for the care of the sick and old. Few of the German priories survived the Reformation.

The St. Magdalen's monastery of the Dominican nuns in Speyer is built in 1228. Details of the baroque chapel are brought over to the church which was consecrated in 1708.

Nikolaus von Weis (1896-1869), Bishop of Speyer, requested the sisters of the monastery to found an Institute for high-quality education for young ladies. So raised the Institute of Saint Dominic.

Edith Stein
 (20.10.1891-9.8.1942) was a famous teacher, who lived in the monastery from

Easter 1922 till 26 March 1931.


Edith Stein
12 October 1891 - 9 August 1942

She was born in Breslau (Wroclaw), in the German Empire's Prussian Province of Silesia, into an observant Jewish family on 12 October 1891. At the University of Göttingen, she became a student of Edmund Husserl, whom she followed to the University of Freiburg as his assistant. In 1916, she received her doctorate of philosophy there with a dissertation in 1916 with Zum Problem der Einfühlung (About the Problem of Emphathy) and held a Ph.D. since, but as a woman was rejected with further habilitational studies at the University of Freiburg and failed to successfully reach in a habilitational study Psychische Kausalität (Psychic Causality) at the University of Göttingen in 1919.

At the Universities of Breslau (Wroclaw) and Freiburg she further failed to successfully reach in an other habilitational study 'Potenz und Akt' (Potence and Act). Her academic career was cut.

While Stein had earlier contacts with Catholicism, it was then her reading the autobiography of the mystic Saint Teresa of Avila on a holiday in Göttingen in 1921 after her problems in personal life and career the years before that caused her conversion. Baptized on January 1, 1922, she gave up her assistantship with Husserl to teach at a Dominican girls' school in Speyer from 1922 to 1932.

'Sankt Dominikus Institut' in Speyer.

Germany 1987. Postmark.



While there, she translated Thomas Aquinas' 'De Veritate' (On Truth) into German and familiarized herself with Catholic philosophy in general and abandoned phenomenology of her former teacher Husserl for thomism.

She visited Husserl and Heidegger at Freiburg in April 1929, in the same month that Heidegger gave a speech to Husserl (like Stein, a Jewish convert to Christianity) on his 70th birthday.

In 1932 she became a lecturer at the 'Institute for Pedagogy' at Münster, but anti-Semitic legislation passed by the Nazi government forced her to resign the post in 1933: the same year in which her former colleague Martin Heidegger became Rector at Freiburg and stated that "The Führer, and he alone, is the present and future law of Germany."

In a letter to Pope Pius XI, she denounced the Nazi regime and asked the Pope to openly denounce the regime "to put a stop to this abuse of Christ's name."
She entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery at
Köln in 1933 and took the name 'Teresa Benedicta of the Cross'. There she wrote her metaphysical book 'Endliches und ewiges Sein' which tries to combine the philosophies of Aquinas and Husserl.

Germany 1983, Mi 1162, Sc 1385. FDC

To avoid the growing Nazi threat, her order transferred Stein to the Carmelite monastery at Echt in the Netherlands. There she wrote 'Studie über Joannes a Cruce: Kreuzeswissenschaft' ("The Science of the Cross: Studies on John of the Cross").

However, Stein was not safe in the Netherlands—the Dutch Bishops' Conference had a public statement read in all the churches of the country on July 20, 1942, condemning Nazi racism. In a retaliatory response on July 26, 1942, the Reichskommissar of the Netherlands, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, ordered the arrest of all Jewish converts, who had previously been spared.

Vatican City 1987, KimCover PW 545.

Edith Stein and her sister Rosa, also a convert, were captured on 2 August 1942 and shipped to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they died in the gas chambers on Sunday 9 1942.Pope John Paul II beatified Edith Steyn as martyr during his second visit to Germany in the Müngersdorfer-stadion in Köln on Friday 1 May 1987.
The Jesuit Rupert Mayer (23 January 1876-1November 1945),
a leading figure of the Catholic resistance in the Third Reich,
was beatified during the same visit on 3 May 1987 in München.

Germany 1988, Mi 1352, Sc 1547.


The miracle which was the basis for her canonization was the cure of a little girl who had swallowed a large amount of Tylenol which causes hepatic necrosis in small children. Immediately her relatives prayed to Edith Stein (intercessory prayer). Shortly thereafter the nurses in the intensive care unit saw her sit up completely healthy.

Pope John Paul II canonized her under the name 'Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross' on October 11, 1998 in Roma. The recovered girl as teenager was present at the canonization ceremony in the Vatican.  Edith Stein is with Catherine of Siena and Birgitta of Sverge patron saint of Europe.

Today, there is a school named in tribute to Stein in Darmstadt, Germany, as well as one in Hengelo, the Netherlands. The University of Tübingen has a women's dormitory named for her as well. In 2008, her bust is to be introduced to the Walhalla temple in Regensburg.


Vatican City 1996, Mi 1180, Sc 1010.
The postmark PosteVaticane 7 May 1996.   






Entrance of the monastery of Saint Magdalen (1228)
the Dominican nuns in Speyer.

Germany 1976. Postcard.







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