Such an amazing story, such an inspiring life!


( – A brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was 14, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila that she began a spiritual journey that led to her baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Saint Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Portrait of Edith Stein in the student chapel of the Hochschulgemeinde Wien im Edith-Stein-Haus | photo by Braveheart –

L’Osservatore Romano –

Born into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau, Germany—now Wroclaw, Poland—Edith abandoned Judaism in her teens. As a student at the University of Göttingen, she became fascinated by phenomenology–an approach to philosophy. Excelling as a protégé of Edmund Husserl, one of the leading phenomenologists, Edith earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1916. She continued as a university teacher until 1922, when she moved to a Dominican school in Speyer; her appointment as lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich ended under pressure from the Nazis.

After living for four years in the Cologne Carmel, Sister Teresa Benedicta moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands, in 1938. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.

Pope John Paul II beatified Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in 1987 and canonized her 12 years later.


The writings of Edith Stein fill 17 volumes, many of which have been translated into English. A woman of integrity, she followed the truth wherever it led her. After becoming a Catholic, Edith continued to honor her mother’s Jewish faith. Sister Josephine Koeppel, O.C.D., translator of several of Edith’s books, sums up this saint with the phrase, “Learn to live at God’s hands.”

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is a Patron Saint of: Converts to Christianity, Europe  Click here to listen


This August 9th marks the 80th anniversary of the death of Edith Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, who was killed at Auschwitz in 1942. In his homily during Holy Mass in the Carmelite Monastery in Auschwitz, Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, reflects on her remarkable story.

In his homily, Cardinal Czerny drew parallels between his own family origins and those of Edith Stein, saying that with this background, he was very honoured and deeply moved to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the saint’s “birth to heaven.”

“With Edith Stein, I share Jewish origins, the Catholic faith, a vocation to religious life, and several coincidences with my maternal grandmother, Anna Hayek née Löw (1893-1945). They were about the same age and came to a similar end,” he said.

The cardinal noted that this anniversary occurs “within this year’s special circumstances that invite and urge us to remember.”

He was referring to the war in Ukraine and “too many cruel wars dragging on in various parts of the world.” CONTINUE: Cardinal Czerny: Edith Stein, a woman of truth and love – Vatican News



From Holy See Press Office director Matteo Bruni: “In coming days, at the request of Pope Francis, His Eminence Cardinal Michael Czerny will depart again for Ukraine to show the closeness of the Holy Father to those who are suffering the consequences of the war in progress. The cardinal will arrive in Slovakia on Wednesday, March 16, and go to the Ukrainian border in following days. Pope Francis is following this mission with prayer, like those of the past few days, and, through His Eminence, he wishes to be close to those fleeing the fighting and suffering from the violence of other men.”


Popes receive many visitors on a daily basis: members of the Roman Curia, heads of State and government, apostolic nuncios (the papal ambassadors), cardinals and bishops, ambassadors presenting their credentials or Letters of Credence as they start their assignment, ambassadors on farewell visits and many individuals and groups that request a papal audience.

Those of us covering the Vatican will often try to read something into the list of people a Pope received. Often there is nothing to read into it as, for example, the weekly scheduled audiences the Pope has with ranking members of the Roman Curia, heads of congregations, etc

Today’s list of private audiences for Pope Francis seemed interesting: among those he received was Bishop-elect Christian Carlassare, M.C.C.J., of Rumbek, South Sudan, Eduard Heger, prime minister of the Republic of Slovakia and Edgars Rinkēvičs, foreign minister of the Republic of Latvia.

As we know, the Pope has a trip to South Sudan scheduled for July 5 to 7. His meeting with the Italian-born bishop-elect of Rumbek takes on a special significance because the Pope had named Msgr. Carlassare as bishop in March 2021 but he was shot in both legs last April, well before he could be ordained. After a year of treatment and therapy, he will now be ordained March 25 in Rumbek’s cathedral.

Father Carlassare was injured in what was believed to be a shooting linked to tribal feuds between the Nuers and Dinkas. He had worked closely for a decade with members of the Nuer tribe but the Dinka tribe, closely linked to the Rumbek diocese, had its own idea of who should have been appointed bishop. That person, Fr. John Mathiang, is one of the accused.

Francis also welcomed today the prime minister of Slovakia, a nation the Pope visited last September. Shortly after the Vatican released the list of audiences, journalists received the note stating that Cardinal Czerny, at the Pope’s request, will travel to Slovakia and will return to Ukraine. (vatican media photo)

A Vatican new story on this meeting said, “The two leaders recalled the Pope’s Apostolic Journey to Slovakia in September 2021, and expressed their appreciation for the “good bilateral relations and the role of the Church in society.” The Pope and the Prime Minister also discussed the war in Ukraine “in depth”, along with “its impact on the regional and international level.” Pope Francis and Mr. Heger gave particular attention to the “humanitarian situation and the reception of war refugees.”

Another interesting guest today at the Vatican was Edgars Rinkēvičs, foreign minister of the Republic of Latvia. Latvia, together with Estonia and Lithuania, are the three Baltic nations that it is said Russian President Putin would like to bring back into the Russian Federation, removing their status as sovereign nations as he is attempting to do Ukraine with his invasion of that sovereign state. Will Latvia’s foreign minister have some information for Pope Francis that might have a bearing on the current war in Ukraine. (As I write, there has not been a press office or Vatican news report on this visit)



Here’s a link to a must read story about the visit to Ukraine of one of Pope Francis’ two cardinal emissaries: Cardinal Czerny in Ukraine: We are all poor in the face of this war – Vatican News

Life in Italy: Gas here now costs between $9 and $10 a gallon, and other prices will rise (bread, pasta and other items already cost more) because of this: Fuel crisis: Italy braces for delays as truck deliveries suspended from Monday (

Saw a number of tartans today when I was out on an errand and I knew the only reason I’d seen men wearing “skirts” in Rome would be because of a rugby match!  In fact, Italy and Scotland play tomorrow night in Rome in a celebrated rugby tournament called the Six Nations. Games will be played in Rome’s historic Foro Italico and the Olympic stadium


After the news segment of “Vatican Insider,” tune in for my conversation with Bro. Binish Thomas, a Fatebenefratelli religious brother who is the director of the Vatican pharmacy.

You’ll learn about the history of the pharmacy, its 45,000 products, its 70 employees, the role it played in these Covid times, the help it gives to many people and organizations and, now especially, to Ukraine.

In fact, as I was ushered into Bro. Thomas’ office, I saw a number of pharmacy employees preparing huge boxes of supplies destined for Ukraine. Many of the medical supplies and other goods were brought by Vatican and Roman Curia employees on Monday to a large collection site just outside the Governorate building in Vatican City.

Just a few of the packed boxes that remained as I was leaving the pharmacy –

The 70 employees include pharmacists and personnel in the profumeria who work in two shifts, as well as those that work in administration, the storage rooms, labs and those who receive, catalogue and store new supplies.

Products range from thousands of prescription medicines to over-the-counter (OTC) items such as aspirin, cough medicine and throat lozenges to first aid products to vitamins and baby food – the list seems endless. A separate part of the pharmacy is the profumeria.

Brother Thomas explains that the pharmacy is visited by about 2,000 or more people daily, slightly less during Covid. That number includes Vatican employees who have Vatican health care insurance and outsiders who can visit the pharmacy with a legitimate medical prescription. Vatican employees enter Vatican City with their personal ID but visitors must first go to an office near the gendarmes to get a pass by showing personal ID and a medical prescription.

The newly re-furbished premises are quite large, much bigger than what strikes the human eye when buying a product in the pharmacy or in the separate profumeria and cosmetic section.

I visited a large number of rooms on several floors with Bro. Thomas – numerous storage rooms, a refrigerator room, a laboratory and a room for personnel breaks for coffee, etc. Electronics are everywhere. I’m sure it would not take more than two minutes to find a product anywhere on the premises! The pharmacy not only lives in the present – it is very avant-garde. 

This hand-held device, for example, allows the pharmacy to know the exact number remaining of specific items on storage room shelves.

As you can see here, the pharmacy, in business since 1874, also produces its own brand of perfumes and colognes for men and women, soap and other products.


And now, the real surprise!   The Vatican pharmacy uses robots to get medicine to the pharmacists!

Clients take a number to enter the pharmacy, then go to a specific counter and present the pharmacist with a prescription. The pharmacist puts that info into a computer and, what seems like no more than a minute, the needed medicine – having been picked from a storage shelf by the unseen robot – slides down a spiral chute and is in the pharmacist’s hands!

Here are some photos of the “robot” area. There are 3 laptop “robots” that get and forward the orders, the long arm of the “robot” that picks the product from the long rows of shelves. the 6 delivery chutes are located behind the pharmacists in the public part of the pharmacy.

All this and more on “Vatican Insider”

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


I called a taxi after an interview yesterday at Regina Apostolorum, a beautiful place in a country setting and bit of a distance from my home and office. When I got in the car and saw how beautiful and spacious it was, I asked the driver what it was and he asked me to guess, noting it is a well-known brand, even if owned only by a small number of people. For some reason I immediately guessed Tesla!

Well, the next 20 or so minutes were a revelation. The car is totally electric, no dashboard, just a big tablet that controls everything. There was even a moment when the driver, hands off, left the driving to the car – it was fascinating! Anything you can do in a normal car, you can do in a Tesla – you just touch the screen. You can listen to music and even view films – but you can only do movies when the car is parked.

I had lots of questions and he explained everything. I asked how he charged it and he showed me a map of Tesla charge spots. The Tesla spots charge faster than non-Tesla charge ones. He said he could do it at home but it would take a lot longer. It costs about 28€ to get the motor to 100% – gas would be about 60 or more Euro.  He also told me that insurance was a lot cheaper for a Tesla.

There are six cameras on the car and they capture front, back and the sides (front side, rear side, etc). Several times as he drove, the car slowed down because we were nearing a bus or another car but it was the Tesla computer that slowed the car, not the driver.

I don’t know how many of you reading this have ever been in a Tesla but for me, yesterday was a terrific ride and a fascinating conversation. I sound like a salesperson but it was a fun 20 minutes! I really don’t need a lot to make me happy!



I believe you will want to stop what you are doing and read Cardinal’s Czerny’s account of his trip to Hungary and Ukraine. It will not take long and it will be a small Lenten exercise in several ways. And you’ll probably end up praying at least a decade of the rosary!

Stay well, Eminence!  God sit on your shoulder! We are with you in thoughts and prayers!

You can follow Cardinal Czerny on Twitter @jesuitczerny

His official account as prefect ad interim is @VaticanIHD


The Prefect ad interim of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development departs on his journey to meet with Ukrainian refugees and displaced persons and those who assist them. In this article, published in the Jesuit publication “Aggiornamenti Sociali” he reflects on the mandate given to him by Pope Francis and on his task to bring closeness and solidarity.

By Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ

Mine is a journey of prayer, prophecy and denunciation. I leave Rome on March 8 to reach Budapest and I will continue by meeting refugees and displaced persons, and those who welcome and assist them. Meanwhile, Card. Konrad Krajewski, papal almoner, has already reached Poland and will do the same in the regions on the border with Ukraine. The hope is that we can cross the border in the following days and enter Ukraine, but this will depend on the evolution of the situation. The Holy See – Pope Francis said it with great force in the Angelus of Sunday, March 6 – “is ready to do everything, to put itself at the service of this peace.” Of this willingness my mission in Ukraine is a sign and my task is to bring to those who suffer the presence and closeness not only of the Pope, but of all the Christian people.

I go to see directly what the situation is, and I hope to be able to bring some material help, but I go above all to meet people, to be with them.  This is the prophecy of a presence and a closeness that may appear weak, even insignificant according to the logic of the world and the force of arms. However, this is not the case; being close to his people, to his children who suffer, is the way that God has chosen to enter into the history of the world, even at the cost of ending up on the cross. A symbol of this style of God is the great wooden crucifix that in recent days – we have all seen the images with emotion – was moved from the Armenian Cathedral of Lviv and taken to a bunker in the hope of saving it from the fury and madness of war. Just as in bunkers, cellars and even improvised shelters there are many people who address their prayers to that crucified Lord.

For this reason I am sure that mine will be a journey of prayer: the Pope’s, mine and that of my two companions, one from the Dicastery for Communication and the other from the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, that of all those who will accompany us in this way, but above all the prayer of the people we will meet, a prayer that – as the book of Sirach teaches – “pierces the clouds”, because God “hears the grievance of the oppressed.  He does not forsake the cry of the orphan, nor the widow when she pours out her complaint.” These people share the gift of their closeness to God with those who meet them, with those who are willing to live the sacrament of their presence, bringing the word of the Gospel and concrete support. The gesture of charity of those who welcome them becomes an opportunity to corroborate the faith that unites us and nourish the common hope that a world without war is possible, that violence and death do not have the last word.  This is the mystery of Easter for which we are preparing this Lent.

For this reason, I will meet and bring the closeness of the Pope and the Church also to the people engaged, in so many different ways, in actions of welcome: a silent and unarmed army, committed to rebuilding that humanity which weapons try to destroy. Their hands are the hands of the whole Christian people, indeed the very hands of God.

Faith is not absent from the tragedy Ukraine is experiencing, because it is in the hearts of the people fleeing the war: most of them are believers, as are many who welcome them, and it is important that all those who wish to receive religious assistance should be able to do so, while respecting the differences between the various confessions and religions. In my journey I will also strive for this.

Finally, mine will also be a journey of denunciation. The story of the Ukrainian refugees is well known, unfolding according to the dramatic script of too many conflicts that bloody our world, often forgotten. With the same rapidity with which in a few days millions of people have had to abandon their homes, news is already coming in that the machine of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants has been set in motion at the borders and in the countries of first reception.

To the drama of war and displacement is added that of slavery. In the mission that our small delegation will carry out, we will pay great attention to this issue, as well as to another equally painful point: the marginalization and sometimes rejection suffered by Africans and Asians who lived in Ukraine and are now fleeing together with the rest of the population. This is a difficult issue to address at such a tense time, yet extremely urgent.

We are all children of one Father and brotherhood knows no borders: this is the meaning of the embrace of the Pope and of the Church that I bring to all those I will meet.




The following statement was released Monday morning by the Holy See Press Office in Italian, English and Spanish. It offers more details about the humanitarian mission of two Vatican cardinals to Ukraine but does differ from news reports on Sunday’s Vatican News website:


The Holy See has put itself at the service of achieving peace in Ukraine. In an extraordinary gesture, Pope Francis announced at the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on Sunday 6 March, that he has dispatched two Cardinals as expressions of the Church’s solidarity with the suffering Ukrainian people; Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Almoner, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, the Prefect ad interim of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Cardinal Krajewski is on his way now (7 March) towards the Polish/Ukraine border, where he will visit refugees and volunteers in shelters and homes.

Cardinal Czerny will arrive in Hungary on Tuesday (8 March) to visit some reception centres for the migrants coming from Ukraine.

Both are directed to Ukraine and depending on the situation they intend to reach the country in the coming days.

The Cardinals will bring aid to the needy and serve as “the presence not only of the Pope, but of all the Christian people who express solidarity with the people of Ukraine and say: ‘War is madness! Stop, please! Look at this cruelty!’ Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine. It is not merely a ‘military operation’, but a war, which sows death, destruction and misery.”

Pope Francis declared, “The number of victims is increasing, as are the people fleeing, especially mothers and children. The need for humanitarian assistance in that troubled country is growing dramatically by the hour. I make a heartfelt appeal for humanitarian corridors to be genuinely secured, and for aid to be guaranteed and access facilitated to the besieged areas, in order to offer vital relief to our brothers and sisters oppressed by bombs and fear. I thank all those who are taking in refugees. Above all, I implore that the armed attacks cease and that negotiation – and common sense – prevail. And that international law be respected once again!”

This latest action by Pope Francis is meant to also call attention to the many similar situations throughout the world. As the Holy Father said on the previous Sunday, “With a heart broken by what is happening in Ukraine – let us not forget the wars in other parts of the world, such as Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia. I repeat: put down your weapons! God is with the peacemakers, not with those who use violence.” (Angelus, 27.02).

Cardinal Czerny will continue drawing the sad similarity between the Ukrainians’ sufferings and the protracted conflicts that no longer attract the world’s attention. In addition, he will raise concern that African and Asian residents in Ukraine, also suffering fear and displacement be allowed to seek refuge without discrimination. There are also worrisome reports of increasing activities of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants at the borders and in the neighboring countries. Since most of the people fleeing are believers, he will affirm that religious assistance should be offered to everyone, with sensitivity to ecumenical and interfaith differences. Finally, throughout the praiseworthy efforts to offer humanitarian responses and organize humanitarian corridors, there is great need for coordination, good organization and shared strategy, in order to embrace people’s sufferings and provide effective relief.