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Resource Page for Teachers

by Lynn and Bob Gillen

October 1998

Please see our links disclaimer located at the end of this document.

Curriculum Connections -

This classroom resource guide will support curriculum in:

    • Social Studies—the Holocaust
    • Religion—the making of a saint; miracles

Glossary of Basic Terms

Your students may find it helpful first to create a glossary of names and terms relating to this month’s article. Definitions can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource materials cited throughout the resource guide.






Idea One — All Saints Aren’t Ancient History

  1. The steps to sainthood

Your students may never have given any thought to how someone becomes a saint. For many, perhaps a saint is simply someone who lived and died a long time ago, in some other era when saints were common. But saints still come from those who have lived in recent generations. Sister Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) is one. Mother Teresa of Calcutta may be another.

When Mother Teresa died in the fall of 1997, many urged the Church to declare her a saint immediately. An individual becomes a saint after a long and careful investigative process. See the article "Teresa: Candidate for Saint?" at the ABC News site, Use the "search" function, input the word "sainthood" and review the article about Mother Teresa. You’ll also find here the article titled "The Path to Sainthood," which describes the five-phase process toward sainthood. To view a tribute page of Mother Teresa, go to You can also read the editorial, "The Sainthood of Mother Teresa" from the December 1997 on-line issue of St. Anthony Messenger, which gives reasons why the Church should not quickly canonize Mother Teresa. The Church’s investigation of a candidate for sainthood includes verifying at least two miracles attributed to the individual, one of which must have occurred after the potential saint’s death. In the same ABC News search, see also the related article, "Saints for All Seasons."

In "The Path to Sainthood," mentioned in the last paragraph, you’ll see how the Church investigated the 1987 miracle in Massachusetts attributed to Sister Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein), who died in 1942.

When the process is near completion and when miracles are legitimately attributed to the potential saint, the Church canonizes the individual. This practice began in the 10th century. Until then, saints were named by public acclaim. Canonization doesn’t make someone a saint. Rather, it simply recognizes what holiness is already there, what God has worked through that individual.

Edith Stein is quoted as saying, "The darker it becomes around us, the more we ought to open our hearts to the light that comes from on high." She lived her life by these words, and, because she would not deny her Jewish heritage or her Christian beliefs, she offered her life in opposition to the hatred and the atrocities of the Nazi regime. She joined the ranks of many other sisters and clergy who likewise died for their convictions. Your students can research others who died as Edith Stein did, and look for common characteristics in their lives. They can then discuss how these qualities may already be present in their own lives, and what it would take to nurture those qualities.

B. Who Becomes a Saint?

As a teenage girl, Edith Stein rejected her family’s faith, then rejected God altogether. But her openness to life and her relentless search for truth led her back to God. History reveals that other saints initially shunned their beliefs, lived lives considered by many to be sinful or errant and later came around to a strong faith in God.

Theology Library provides a rather comprehensive list of saints and blesseds, as well as other information about sainthood. Let your students search for any saints of interest to them. They may find inspiration from a saint who struggled as a youth, came to faith through adversity or is a patron of an activity or situation close to the student’s life.

  1. What is a miracle?

Do you recall the dramatic scene from the movie, The Miracle Worker, when the water pump sparks Helen Keller’s ability to communicate? Called a miracle by some, it is really a leap forward after months of hard work. But what is a miracle? Is it a grand event explainable only as an action of Divine Power, such as the parting of the Red Sea in the Bible, or Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead? The Church tells us that a miracle is due to the intervention of God, and is not necessarily an action of Divine Power. This opens up the possibility, indeed the reality, of God stepping directly into our lives in a way that makes it clear the result could not have come from anywhere except his hand. Again, see the story of little Teresia Benedicta McCarthy. Doctors pronounced her case hopeless, yet the devotion and faith of her family gave God an opportunity to work a cure described only as miraculous.

For more thorough research on miracles, your students can see:

Guide your students in looking for the word "wonderful" in the above research. A miracle has its origins in awe and wonder, wonder at God’s hand in our lives.

D. The Life of Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

For more information on Edith Stein’s life and influence, your students can see sources such as:

E. Answering the Lord’s call

The Lord spoke, in some way, to Edith Stein and Charles McCarthy. Ask your students if, at some point in their lives, they have experienced God speaking to them. If so, in what ways, and how did they respond?

Idea Two — The 5 Million Non-Jews who Perished in the Holocaust

Five million of the 11 million who died in the Nazi Holocaust were Christians and other non-Jews. The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, maintains a Holocaust library. See Hiatt Holocaust Collection .

Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J., wrote an article entitled "Five Heroic Catholics of the Holocaust" (see Hiatt Holocaust Collection). The author describes Pope John Paul II’s efforts to demonstrate that the Catholic Church was not silent during the Nazi persecutions. John Paul has already canonized Maximilian Kolbe, a priest who died in the death camps, and will canonize Edith Stein in October of 1998. The author also discusses others beatified by the Church.

Many have devoted their lives to reminding the world that it cannot forget this enormous tragedy of the Holocaust. See one woman’s web site, a personal effort to honor those who perished ( At this site, you’ll read a modern American teenager’s story, "A Journey to an Unholy Place," a personal account of his visit to the Auschwitz museum. You’ll also find a Holocaust timeline at this site.

See, a "Cybrary" of Holocaust materials. You’ll see reference to the Holocaust Quilt, as well as survivor stories and a teacher’s guide to the Holocaust. The site also includes information on the 1996 PBS show, "The Survivors of the Holocaust." Or read the article "The Holocaust Museum: Why Christians Should Go" from the August 1996 on-line issue of St. Anthony Messenger magazine.

Further Online Resources

Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further reference. Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site’s archives. - The New York Times - Los Angeles Times - Time magazine - CNN - MSNBC - This site will take you to a number of online publications. - The Associated Press - The Chicago Tribune - People magazine The Washington Post - The Miami Herald - The Close Up Foundation - The web site of ABC News

Links Disclaimer:

The links contained within this resource guide are functional at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links may become ineffective.

These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do so at your own risk.

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