In Wednesday's general audience, celebrated in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about St. Teresa Benedict of the Cross, also known as St. Edith Stein, and St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, whose feast days the Church celebrates in August.
Speaking from a balcony in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father recalled his recent two-week vacation in Bressanone, Italy. He said that many people have written him requesting prayer for their intentions. Pope Benedict explained, “They tell me about their joys, but also their worries, their family problems and those at work, the hopes which they carry in their heart and the anguish and uncertainties which humanity is living this moment.” He assured all persons that he remembers their intentions in his daily celebration of the Holy Mass and recitation of the Holy Rosary.
The Holy Father stressed, “He who prays never loses hope, even when he finds himself in difficult situations.” He said that Sacred Scripture and the history of the Church give witness to how prayer sustains the way of the saints and Christian people.
Pope Benedict added: St. Teresa Benedict of the Cross, whose feast the Church celebrated on August 9, and St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, whose feast is tomorrow, the vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, are such examples in our time. The Pontiff reminded his audience that both saints were martyrs in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, witnesses of the love which “defeats the darkness of egoism and hatred.” The Holy Father recalled words attributed St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe: “Hatred is not a creative force: only love is.” On August 14, 1941, the saint died in place of a fellow prisoner.
Edith Stein died on August 6, 1942. Pope Benedict noted her words to her fellow religious sisters three days prior to her death: “I am ready for everything. Jesus is here among us. I have been able to pray well and have said with all my heart: ‘Ave, Crux, spes unica’.” He explained that the secret of Teresa Benedict of the Cross, co-patron of Europe, was prayer.
The Holy Father concluded by calling on his audience to renew their trust in Mary, “who from heaven watches over us with maternal love.”
After the general audience, Pope Benedict directed these words towards the English-speaking pilgrims: “I am happy to welcome the young Irish pilgrims from Kildare and Leighlin who are with us this morning. My warm greeting also goes to the Heisei youth group from Japan. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, including those from Guam, Canada and the United States, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.”