There is little known about Monica’s early life, but we do know she was born of Christian parents in North Africa in the year 333. While still a young woman, her parents arranged her marriage to a pagan official named Patritius, in Tagaste. He was known to have a bad disposition and sometimes a volatile temper. Monica was, on the other hand, a gentle soul who was very close to God. Consequently, their marriage was a very happy one.
Though some of her habits (like praying) annoyed him, he was intrigued with her piety. Although he did not understand the faith, he admired his wife and her piety. Over the years the couple had three children, two boys and a girl. Monica’s greatest desire was to have her children baptized, but her husband would not allow it. When her eldest son, Augustine, fell ill she was so distraught that her husband finally agreed to having him baptized. However, Augustine recovered and Patritius recanted his consent of the baptism.
Finally, after many years, Monica’s sweetness, patience and good Christian example won over not only her husband but also her mother-in-law, and both became Catholics. Patritius died only a year after his conversion. Monica’s younger son, Navigius and her daughter both entered the religious life, but her eldest son Augustine fell into a life of sin. He became the source of much heartache for Monica and she spent many hours daily in prayer for this wayward son. One priest once told her not to worry because, “it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.” The Lord also gave Monica a vision that brought her consolation and hope that her son would repent and become a Christian.
After seventeen years, Monica’s prayers were answered. In the year 387, Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose. Monica died later that same year while she was en route from Rome to Africa. She is the patroness of married women as well as abuse victims, alcoholics, alcoholism, difficult marriages, disappointing children, homemakers, housewives, mothers, victims of adultery, victims of unfaithfulness, and widows.
Other Saints We Remember Today
Feast of the Holy Shroud
St. Gothard (Godehard) (1038), Bishop
St. Florian (304), Martyr, Patron of Poland and fireman
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