St. Monica

This woman is a model of prayer and hope for everyone.  St. Monica was born around Anno Domini 331 to a Christian Family in the North African Part of the Roman Empire..  She married young.

Monica was born of a Berber family in Thagaste within the Roman province of (North) Africa subsequent to the Christianization of the imperial government, during the later administration of Constantine the Great. Every indication is that she was a Christian from her youth. Of her ancestry there is no record. She married young as Roman law fixed the age at which a daughter given to a spouse by her father officially became a matron, a recognized spouse with all the privileges set forth in marriage law. That age was twelve years.

Patricius, her husband, was an ill-tempered pagan twenty-two years older than she.  Patricius became annoyed with her constant prayer, fasting, and caring for the poor and slaves.  He was guilty of infidelity, which plagued St. Monica and helped create a sense of loneliness in her newlywed household.  These hurdles only served to strengthen her life in prayer.  She bore two sons and one daughter, which she took great pains to raise with Christian diligence and with great success.  Patricius would not allow the baptism of their children.  Instead of arguing with Patricius, St. Monica used meekness and devotion to draw her husband closer to God.  She believed that when Patricius became angry, the best thing to do would be to obey whatever he asked.   Someone said of her that “she had learnt not to resists an angry husband, not in deed only, but in word” in so doing, she felt that she would be obeying God.    “For the unbelievenig husband is sanctified by the wife” (1 Cor 7:14).  With this devotion to her husband, she received no blows during his fits of anger, whereas she knew many other wives of the same time suffered cruel beatings.  However, Monica had fit in well into her husband’s family (according to her rather more famous son) such that in spite of how “hot-tempered a husband my mother had to cope with” nothing indicated “there had been any domestic disagreement between them, even for one day”; and moreover while “her mother-in-law was at first prejudiced against her by the tale-bearing of malicious servants,” Monica “won the older woman over by her dutiful attentions and her constant patience and gentleness.”

She eventually won her husband over to God through constant prayer and meek devotion.  After sixteen years of marriage, Patricius was finally baptized.  One year later Patricius died.  St. Monica took comfort that he died a believer in the True Faith.  Meanwhile, her son, Augustine, had been caught up in the passions and in the Manichean heresy.  She once again devoted herself to persistant prayer to guide her son back to the Faith.  It took fourteen years before St. Augustine was brought back to the Faith and baptized.  With her family once again finally brought to the True Faith, St. Monica was content and desired nothing of this world.

She died at the Roman port of Ostia as they were returning to Africa, but not before witnessing the baptism into the “Catholic” church  of her son, Augustine and his son Adeodatus, along with Augustine’s friend and colleague Alypius on Holy Saturday, April 24, 387. at the hands of St. Ambrose of Milan.  Her ultimate influence upon her incomparable son is the other side of his own “confessional” autobiography. Her own cult developed in the later Middle Ages.  She is revered for her patience and strength in prayer.  Many ask for her intercessions concerning wayward children and unsanctified husbands. Her supposed remains were transferred from Ostia to Rome in 1430 by Martin V (pope November 11, 1417 – February 20, 1431; ODP 239-240).

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