Feast Day: 27 August
Monica was born in 332 in Tagaste, North Africa.
Although her parents were Christians, they gave her in marriage to a local pagan official. A violent and immoral man, Monica’s married life with Patricius was far from being a happy one, especially as her husband’s mother, who lived with them, seems to have been of a like disposition with himself.
His wife’s alms deeds and her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. Monica’s persistent prayers and untiring sweetness finally won out and, in 370, both her husband and mother-in-law converted to Christianity.
Patricius died a year after being baptized, leaving Monica to raise their three children alone. Augustine, the eldest of the three, had fallen prey to the Manichean heresy (which professes that all flesh and matter is evil) while yet an adolescent and was living an immoral life. She banished Augustine from her home for some time, but welcomed him back after she had a vision in which she was assured that her firstborn son would return to the faith.
From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. She would beg the prayers of priests who often avoided her because of her persistence at this seemingly hopeless endeavour. When Augustine secretly set sail for Rome, she followed him. When, upon her arrival in Rome she discovered that he had left for the northern city of Milan, she set out at once in pursuit of him.
For seventeen long years, the faithful mother continued undeterred in her prayers and fasting for the conversion of her son until finally, in 387, Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose in Milan.
As if in confirmation that her earthly mission had been fulfilled, Monica died later that same year.
Photo by: Giovanni Dall’Orto