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The Collected Works of Edith Stein: A Guide to Downloading and Reading Her Philosophy and Spirituality

The Collected Works of Edith Stein: A Treasure Trove of Philosophy and Spirituality

If you are looking for a rich and inspiring source of wisdom, you might want to check out the collected works of Edith Stein. Edith Stein was a remarkable woman who lived in the turbulent times of the 20th century. She was a brilliant philosopher, a devout Catholic, and a martyr of the Holocaust. Her writings cover a wide range of topics, from phenomenology and anthropology to mysticism and theology. In this article, we will explore who Edith Stein was, what her collected works are, and how to read and appreciate them.

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Who was Edith Stein and why is she important?

Edith Stein was born in 1891 in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland). She was the youngest of eleven children in a Jewish family. She was a gifted student who excelled in academics and languages. She studied philosophy at the University of Göttingen under Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology. She became his assistant and one of his most influential disciples. She also befriended other prominent philosophers, such as Martin Heidegger and Max Scheler.

Her life and conversion

Edith Stein was not religious as a young woman. She considered herself an atheist who only believed in reason and science. However, she was always open to the truth and searched for meaning in life. She was fascinated by the lives of the saints, especially Teresa of Ávila, whose autobiography she read in one night. She was also impressed by the faith of some of her friends, especially Anna Reinach, whose husband died in World War I. Edith Stein gradually felt drawn to Christianity and decided to convert to Catholicism in 1922. She was baptized on January 1, 1922, and took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Her philosophical contributions

Edith Stein continued to work as a philosopher after her conversion. She taught at various universities and wrote several books and articles. She applied phenomenology to various fields, such as psychology, education, feminism, and ethics. She also explored the relationship between philosophy and theology, reason and faith, nature and grace. She developed a unique anthropology that integrated the human person as a unity of body, soul, and spirit. She also delved into the mystery of the cross as the source of love and redemption.

Her martyrdom and canonization

Edith Stein's life took a dramatic turn when the Nazis came to power in Germany. As a Jew and a Catholic, she faced persecution and discrimination. She decided to enter the Carmelite convent in Cologne in 1933, hoping to find refuge and peace. She took the religious name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, after her patron saint Teresa of Ávila. She continued to write and study in the convent, producing some of her most profound works on mysticism and spirituality.

However, she could not escape the Nazi terror. In 1938, she was forced to flee to the Netherlands with her sister Rosa, who also became a Catholic and a Carmelite. In 1942, the Dutch bishops issued a letter condemning the Nazi atrocities against the Jews. In retaliation, the Nazis arrested all the Catholic Jews in the Netherlands, including Edith and Rosa Stein. They were deported to Auschwitz, where they died in the gas chamber on August 9, 1942.

Edith Stein was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987 and canonized by him in 1998. She is venerated as a martyr and a patron saint of Europe, philosophers, and women.

What are the collected works of Edith Stein and how to access them?

The collected works of Edith Stein comprise 17 volumes of her writings, plus an additional volume of her letters and diaries. They include her philosophical and theological works, as well as her spiritual and autobiographical writings. They span from her early essays on phenomenology to her later works on the cross and Carmelite spirituality.

The scope and content of the collection

The collected works of Edith Stein are divided into three main sections: philosophical works, theological works, and spiritual works. The philosophical works include her doctoral dissertation on empathy, her habilitation thesis on the state, her studies on Husserl and Scheler, and her essays on various topics such as psychology, education, feminism, and ethics. The theological works include her treatises on the mystery of being, the structure of the human person, the nature of grace, and the role of the church. The spiritual works include her meditations on the liturgy, the Eucharist, the passion of Christ, and the life of Teresa of Ávila.

The formats and languages available

The collected works of Edith Stein are available in various formats and languages. The original language of most of her writings is German, but some of them were written in Latin or translated into other languages by herself or others. The most comprehensive edition of her works is the German one published by Herder Verlag, which is based on the critical edition by the Edith Stein Archive in Cologne. The English edition of her works is published by ICS Publications, which is affiliated with the Institute of Carmelite Studies in Washington, D.C. The English edition is based on the German edition but also includes some additional material from other sources. The English edition is available in both print and digital formats. Other languages that have partial or complete translations of her works include French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Dutch, and Hebrew.

The sources and links for downloading

If you want to access the collected works of Edith Stein online, you have several options. You can purchase or borrow the digital edition from ICS Publications or other online platforms such as Amazon Kindle or Google Play Books. You can also find some of her works for free on websites such as Project Gutenberg or However, be aware that these sources may not have the latest or most accurate versions of her texts. You can also visit the official website of the Edith Stein Archive in Cologne (, which has a lot of information and resources about her life and works.

How to read and appreciate the collected works of Edith Stein?

Reading the collected works of Edith Stein can be a rewarding and enriching experience. However, it can also be challenging and demanding. Her writings are not easy to understand or digest. They require a lot of attention and reflection. They also presuppose some familiarity with philosophy, theology, and history. Here are some tips and resources to help you read and appreciate her works better.

The main themes and insights of her writings

One way to approach the collected works of Edith Stein is to identify the main themes and insights that run through them. Here are some examples:

  • The primacy of truth: Edith Stein was always committed to seeking and following the truth wherever it led her. She believed that truth was not only a matter of logic but also a matter of love. She saw truth as a gift from God that illuminated both reason and faith.

  • The dignity of the human person: Edith Stein had a profound respect for the human person as a unique and irreplaceable being created in God's image and likeness. She recognized the human person as a unity of body, soul, and spirit, endowed with freedom and responsibility. She also affirmed the human person as a social being who needs community and solidarity.

The relevance and application of her thought to today's world

Another way to approach the collected works of Edith Stein is to see how they relate and apply to today's world. Her thought is not outdated or irrelevant, but rather timely and pertinent. Here are some examples:

  • The challenge of secularism: Edith Stein lived in a time when secularism and atheism were on the rise and religion was marginalized or oppressed. She faced this challenge with courage and conviction, showing that faith and reason are not opposed but complementary. She also witnessed to her faith with her life and death, becoming a martyr for the truth.

  • The value of diversity: Edith Stein was a woman of many cultures and identities. She was a Jew and a Christian, a German and a European, a philosopher and a mystic, a teacher and a nun. She embraced her diversity as a gift and a richness, not as a problem or a contradiction. She also respected and dialogued with people of different backgrounds and beliefs, seeking common ground and mutual understanding.

  • The call to holiness: Edith Stein was a saint who followed Christ with all her heart, mind, and strength. She was not satisfied with mediocrity or complacency, but strove for excellence and perfection. She also helped others to grow in holiness, especially through her writings and prayers. She showed that holiness is not reserved for a few but open to all who are willing to cooperate with God's grace.

The tips and resources for further study

A third way to approach the collected works of Edith Stein is to use some tips and resources for further study. Her works are not meant to be read once and forgotten, but rather to be studied and contemplated. Here are some tips and resources:

  • Start with her spiritual works: If you are new to Edith Stein's writings, you might want to start with her spiritual works, such as The Science of the Cross or The Hidden Life. These works are more accessible and engaging than her philosophical works, and they reveal her heart and soul.

  • Read her works in context: If you want to understand Edith Stein's writings better, you need to read them in context. You need to know something about her life story, her historical background, her philosophical influences, and her theological sources. You can find this information in biographies, introductions, commentaries, or footnotes.

  • Read her works with others: If you want to appreciate Edith Stein's writings more, you might want to read them with others. You can join or form a reading group, a book club, or a study circle. You can share your insights, questions, doubts, or applications with others who are also interested in her thought.


In conclusion, the collected works of Edith Stein are a treasure trove of philosophy and spirituality. They offer us a glimpse into the mind and heart of a remarkable woman who lived an extraordinary life. They also offer us a wealth of wisdom that can enlighten and inspire us today. If you want to discover more about Edith Stein and her writings, you can download them from various sources online. You can also read them with attention and reflection, using some tips and resources for further study. You will not regret it!

Summary of the main points

  • Edith Stein was a brilliant philosopher, a devout Catholic, and a martyr of the Holocaust.

  • Her collected works comprise 17 volumes of her writings on various topics such as phenomenology, anthropology, mysticism, and theology.

  • Her writings can be read and appreciated by identifying the main themes and insights that run through them, by seeing how they relate and apply to today's world, and by using some tips and resources for further study.

Call to action and invitation to share

If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and family who might also be interested in Edith Stein and her writings. You can also leave a comment below with your feedback or questions. Thank you for reading!


Here are some frequently asked questions about Edith Stein and her collected works:

  • What is phenomenology?

Phenomenology is a branch of philosophy that studies human experience as it appears to consciousness. It aims to describe the essential structures and meanings of phenomena, such as perception, emotion, memory, language, etc. Edith Stein was one of the pioneers of phenomenology, along with Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger.

  • What is Carmelite spirituality?

Carmelite spirituality is a form of Christian spirituality that originated from the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, a religious order that traces its roots to the hermits who lived on Mount Carmel in Israel in the 12th century. Carmelite spirituality is characterized by a deep love for Christ, a devotion to Mary, a contemplative prayer life, and a service to the church and the world. Edith Stein was a member of the Discalced Carmelites, a reform branch of the order founded by Teresa of Ávila and John of the Cross in the 16th century.

  • Where can I find more information about Edith Stein?

If you want to find more information about Edith Stein, you can visit some of these websites:

  • The International Association for the Study of the Philosophy of Edith Stein:

  • What are some other books or authors that are similar to Edith Stein?

If you like Edith Stein and her writings, you might also like some of these books or authors:

  • The Story of a Soul by Thérèse of Lisieux

  • The Interior Castle by Teresa of Ávila

  • The Dark Night of the Soul by John of the Cross

  • Introduction to Christianity by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

  • Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

  • How can I apply Edith Stein's teachings to my life?

If you want to apply Edith Stein's teachings to your life, you can try some of these suggestions:

  • Seek and follow the truth with love and humility.

  • Respect and care for the dignity of every human person.

  • Embrace suffering as a way to unite with Christ and help others.

  • Cultivate a prayerful and joyful relationship with God.

  • Share your gifts and talents with others for the common good.


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