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St. Monica

Monica was the mother of St. Augustine and what we know about her comes from what her son told us in his Confessions. Monica was a devout Christian who married a pagan. She was born in 333 at Tagaste, North Africa. Raised a devout Christian, as a young woman Monica married Patricius a pagan who held a government position at Tagaste. Patricius was hot-tempered and unfaithful, but Monica’s patience and gentleness eventually won is love. When he grew angry with her, she would wait until his temper cooled and then patiently explain to him the reasons for her actions; she counseled this same course of action to her friends who had marriage difficulties. While Patricius was a problem, it was her son Augustine who would cause Monica the greatest heartbreak. Monica had tried to raise her children as Christians despite the poor example of Patricius. However, in keeping with the custom of the times she did not have Augustine baptized as a baby. Augustine asked for baptism when he was seriously ill as a teenager, but on his recovery did not go through with it. During his studies, he was drawn into a wild lifestyle, taking a mistress and fathering her child. Monica was deeply distressed when she learned of this and pleaded with her son to reform his life. She had the consolation of seeing her husband convert and they lived peacefully together until Patricius’ death about a year later. Augustine’s situation continued to get more tangled, for he now immersed himself in the heretical doctrine of Manichæism. When he came home and voiced his heretical views, Monica for awhile banned him from her home, but after a dream decided that it was God’s will for her to let him come back. Monica pursued Augustine to Rome and then to Milan. Here the great bishop St. Ambrose told her that the “child of those tears should never perish.” Due to God’s grace, and the influence of Monica and St. Ambrose, Augustine finally saw the light. He and his mother spent six happy months together as he prepared for baptism. They then started back to Africa, but Monica died at Ostia, a port near Rome, before they could sail for home. She died at peace, happy that Augustine had not only returned to the Faith, but would become a priest. She asked her son that to remember her at the altar of the Lord. St. Monica is the patron of parents with troubled children, and of women in abusive situations. Her feast is August 27, one day before the feast of her son on August 28.

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