Edith Stein

While never identifying herself as a feminist, Edith opposed a male dominated curriculum taught solely by men. She lobbied for an educational system more supportive of women’s distinct nature and quest for wholeness. After the First World War in Germany, most women worked outside the home, usually in response to economic need. In opposition to the encyclicals of Pope Pius XI, Edith supported women’s right to full employment. As a philosophical pioneer in the nature of women’s psyches, she lectured extensively on women’s vocations, affirming their unique gifts as greatly beneficial to society. Edith believed that there was no profession that could not be practiced by a woman, and that the “natural” vocation of wife and mother could not be considered her only vocation, since all are called to be perfect in the image of God. Even in the most mundane job, Edith asserted, women can have an impact using their interpersonal skills, creativity, and capacity for service.

Essay and prayer by Christine Schenk, CSJ

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