It has been suggested that, after Mary, the mother of Jesus, no other mother has influenced the life of early Christianity as much as Saint Monica. Almost everything we know about her today is from the writings of her famous son, Saint Augustine, whose feast day we celebrate tomorrow.
Saint Monica was born in 331 AD in Tagaste, North Africa (present day Algeria). She was of Berber descent and had many challenges in her life, including an arranged marriage with a pagan and abusive husband, an ill tempered mother-in-law, and her oldest son, the brilliant but wild and immoral Augustine.
By her prayers and example, Monica eventually won over her husband, mother-in-law and two younger children to the Christian faith, but Augustine continued to be a great grief to his mother. He took a mistress, persisted in his wayward lifestyle, and accepted the Manichean heresy. Monica prayed, fasted and wept on Augustine’s behalf for seventeen long years, never giving up hope. She followed him to Milan, where she became friends with Bishop Ambrose (the future Saint Ambrose). He assured her: “It is impossible that the son of so many tears should perish.”
Finally, on Easter of 387, Monica’s perseverance and prayers were rewarded far beyond her wildest dreams: Augustine was baptized into the Christian faith, consecrated his life to God, and became one of the Doctors of the Church. Soon afterwards, Monica died in the port of Ostia, Italy, saying, “All my hopes in this world are now fulfilled.”
Saint Monica is the patron saint of mothers, married women and alcoholics. She is an inspiration and example to those of us who are impatient, impulsive and want immediate results.