Mother of Saint Augustine (333 - 387)
Also known as: Monica of Hippo, Monnica
Memorial: August 27 (formerly May 4)
Saint Monica was born in 333 of Christian parents in Tagaste, North Africa, some forty miles from the port city of Hippo, in the department of Constantine. Her parents brought her up as Christian and married her to an older, pagan man named Patricius. They had two sons, Augustine and Navigius, and one daughter, Perpetua. Patricius was a man of violent temper and their home could scarcely have been a happy one. Monica endured his outbursts with the utmost patience, although he was critical of Christians and their practices. She prayed for 30 years for the conversion of her pagan husband. Her example and prayer finally paid off, as her husband converted to the faith, a year before his death, which occurred when Augustine was seventeen. When Patricius died, Monica resolved not to marry again and joined Augustine in Italy.
Augustine was one of the most intelligent men who ever lived and though he had been brought up a Christian, his sins of impurity and his pride darkened his mind so much, that he could not see or understand the Divine Truth anymore. He lived with his mistress and subscribed to Manichaeism. Saint Monica sent Augustine to a bishop to be convinced of his errors. The bishop, however, was unable to prevail, and he advised Saint Monica simply to continue to pray for her son. He told her: "It is impossible that the son of so many tears should perish". Monica then prayed for the conversion of her son, Augustine.
In Milan Monica found Saint Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine yield, after seventeen years of resistance. Mother and son spent six months of true peace at Cassiacum, after which time Augustine was baptized in the church of Saint John the Baptist at Milan, at the age of 28, on Easter Eve in 387. When she was fifty-six, she died in Ostia, near Rome, in 387. So before her death Monica had the great job of knowing that Augustine had returned to God and that her daughter Perpetua had become a nun.
In 391, Augustine was reluctantly ordained as a priest by the congregation of Hippo Regius - a not uncommon practice in Northern Africa - in 395 he was made Bishop, and he died August 430 in Hippo.
Monica is a Saint, who is especially revered by mothers because of her tireless prayers for the conversion of her wayward son, Augustine. Saint Monica's relics are enshrined at Saint Augustine's Church in Rome near the Piazza Navona; other relics are at Arrouaise (Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, S. Delany, White).
Saint Monica died in the late fourth century. At that time, saints were proclaimed by common acclamation of the Catholic people, as ratified by their local bishop. Rome did not have a big part to play in beatifications or canonizations until the eleventh century. I don't know if Pope Saint Siricius (384-399) beatified or canonized Saint Monica. Later popes certainly accepted her canonization as a fact. In the early centuries, canonization was much more informal and a kind of general, grassroots recognition by the Catholic population that a person was holy and a model for Christian living.
Saint Monica is the patron saint of married women, abuse victims, alcoholics, alcoholism, difficult marriages, disappointing children, homemakers, housewives, married women, mothers, victims of adultery, victims of unfaithfulness, victims of verbal abuse, widows, and wives .
Prayer to Saint Monica
Exemplary Mother of the great Augustine,
you perseveringly pursued your wayward son
not with wild threats but with prayerful cries to heaven.
Intercede for all mothers in our day
so that they may learn to draw their children to God.
Teach them how to remain close to their children,
even the prodigal sons and daughters
who have sadly gone astray.