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Saint Monica
Widow
Born 322, Algeria
Died 387, Ostia, outside of Rome
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglicanism and the Lutheranism
Major shrine Sant'Agostino, Rome
Feast 27 August (Roman Catholic Church, Church of England, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod)
4 May (pre-1969 General Roman Calendar, Eastern Orthodox Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Episcopal Church in the United States of America)
Attributes patron of those who have difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of adultery or unfaithfulness, and victims of (verbal) abuse
Statue of St Monica at front of former Augustinian church in Tábor, Czech Republic (c. 1700)

Monica (or Monnica) (331[1] – 387) is a Christian saint and the mother of Augustine of Hippo, who wrote extensively of her virtues and his life with her in his Confessions.

Life

Monica was of Berber descent.[2][3][4] She was born in Roman Africa.[5] Her parents brought her up as Christian and married her to an older pagan man named Patricius, a curialis of Thagaste (located in modern-day Souk Ahras, Algeria). He was a man of kindness,[6] but also a man given to violent tempers and adultery.

Augustine reports that despite the prevalence of domestic violence at the time, because of her obedience to him, Monica was never beaten by Patricius. Initially, she got on poorly with her mother-in-law, but Monica won her over by her respectfulness, patience, and gentleness.[7]

Monica attended Holy Mass daily and cultivated the virtue of patience. She advised other wives, who were beaten, to hold their tongues around their husbands, rather than proudly withstand them.[6] Eventually, she converted Patricius to Christianity and calmed his violent nature.

Monica bore Patricius four children, among them Augustine. Augustine made her very happy with his successes as a scholar and teacher, but he also made her very ashamed with his debauchery. For ten years, Augustine lived with his mistress and subscribed to Manichaeism.

Monica sent Augustine to a bishop to be convinced of his errors. The bishop, however, was unable to prevail, and he advised St. Monica simply to continue to pray for her son. He told her, "it cannot be that the son of these tears should perish."[8]

Some years later, Patricius and Monica joined Augustine in Italy. There, some time later, they had the pleasure of seeing their son, at the age of 33, converted and baptized by Ambrose. Not long after, as Monica was preparing to return to Africa, she died at the age of 56 at the port of Ostia.

As recounted by Augustine, before she died she told him: "There was indeed one thing for which I wished to tarry a little in this life, and that was that I might see you a Catholic before I died. My God hath answered this more than abundantly, so that I see you now made His servant and spurning all earthly happiness. What more am I to do here?"[9]

References

  1. ^ The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume IV. Proper of Saints, August 27.
  2. ^ Encyclopedia Americana: "Berbers : ... The best known of them were the Roman author Apuleius, the Roman emperor Septimius Severus, and St. Augustine, whose mother was a berber", Encyclopedia Americana, Scholastic Library Publishing, 2005, v.3, p.569
  3. ^ Margaret R. Miles (Dean of the Graduate Theological Union): "Monica: Mother of Augustine. A Berber North African woman, Monica is known to us...", Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, Taylor & Francis, 1998, p.776
  4. ^ Natalie Zemon Davis: "...Augustine's berber mother Monica", Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds, Hill and Wang, 2007, p.203
  5. ^ A. Mandouze, Prosopographie chrétienne du bas-empire. Prosopographie de l'Afrique chrétienne (303-533) (Paris 1982)
  6. ^ a b Augustine, Confessions, IX, ix, 19.
  7. ^ Augustine, Confessions, IX, ix, 20.
  8. ^ Augustine, Confessions, III, xii, 21. Henry Chadwick, trans. Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1998, pp 51.
  9. ^ Augustine: Confessions, book 9, chapter 10

External links

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