Collection: St. Monica
ARTIST: Julie Lonneman
Blessed Monica, mother of St. Augustine, we give thanks to our Father in heaven who looked with mercy upon your tears over your wayward son. His conversion and heroic sanctification were the fruit of your prayers.
Dear St. Monica, we now ask you to pray with us for all those sons and daughters that have wandered away from God, and to add your prayers to those of all mothers who are worried over their children.
Pray also for us that, following your example, we may, in the company of our children, one day enjoy the eternal vision of our Father in heaven. Amen.
Her feast day is August 27.
Monica was the mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo, whose writings about her are the primary source of our information. A Christian from birth, she was given in marriage to a bad-tempered, adulterous pagan named Patricius. She prayed constantly for the conversion of her husband (who converted on his death bed), and of her son (who converted after a wild life). She was a spiritual student of Saint Ambrose of Milan. Monica was a reformed alcoholic.
The day was now approaching when my mother Monica would depart from this life; you know that day, Lord, though we did not. She and I happened to be standing by ourselves at a window that overlooked the garden in the courtyard of the house. At the time we were in Ostia on the Tiber. And so the two of us, all alone, were enjoying a very pleasant conversation, "forgetting the past and pushing on to what is ahead.." We were asking one another in the presence of the Truth - for you are the Truth - what it would be like to share the eternal life enjoyed by the saints, which "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, which has not even entered into the heart of man." We desired with all our hearts to drink from the streams of your heavenly fountain, the fountain of life.
That was the substance of our talk, though not the exact words. But you know, O Lord, that in the course of our conversation that day, the world and its pleasures lost all their attraction for us. My mother said, "Son, as far as I am concerned, nothing in this life now gives me any pleasure. I do not know why I am still here, since I have no further hopes in this world. I did have one reason for wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect, for I know that you have even renounced earthly happiness to be his servant. So what am I doing here?"
I do not really remember how I answered her. Shortly, within five days or thereabouts, she fell sick with a fever. Then one day during the course of her illness she became unconscious and for a while she was unaware of her surroundings. My brother and I rushed to her side, but she regained consciousness quickly. She looked at us as we stood there and asked in a puzzled voice: "Where was I?"
We were overwhelmed with grief, but she held her gaze steadily upon us, and spoke further: "Here you shall bury your mother." I remained silent as I held back my tears. However, my brother haltingly expressed his hope that she might not die in a strange country but in her own land, since her end would be happier there. When she heard this, her face was filled with anxiety, and she reproached him with a glance because he had entertained such earthly thoughts. Then she looked at me and spoke: "Look what he is saying." Thereupon she said to both of us, "Bury my body wherever you will; let not care of it cause you any concern. One thing only I ask you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be." Once our mother had expressed this desire as best she could, she fell silent as the pain of her illness increased.
—Excerpts from the Confessions of Saint Augustine of Hippo
Born: 333 at Tagaste (Souk Ahrus), Algeria
Died: 387 at Ostia, Italy