MAY 4 is the traditional feast day of ST. MONICA (+387). For those of us who have lost our children to the pagan world of today, this woman is a good one to adopt as our patron saint, or, at least, as our helpmate in this fight for our children’s souls.
Monica was born around 331 or 332 AD in, probably, Thagaste, in what is now Algeria. This was a settlement of Romanized Berbers. Her name is a Berber name (spelled Monikka) leading to the belief that she was a Berber. Monica was a Christian. She was married, at a young age, to a Roman pagan who was an official in the town of Thagaste. His name was Patricius and he had a violent temper and suffered from a lack of virtues. It is said that he took after his mother. But, despite Monica’s prayers, alms-giving and good deeds, Patricius always held her in respect.
Monica and Patricius had three children who lived past infancy: Augustine, Navigius and Perpetua. Patricius would not let the children be baptized. When Augustine fell ill, Monica begged Patricius to let him be baptized when the child got better. Unfortunately, when Augustine survived, Patricius reneged on his promise. Augustine grew into a slothful, lazy lad.
As the child grew older, he was sent to the schola at Madauros, a Christian town not too far from Thagaste. Then, at 16, he was sent to study rhetoric in Carthage, 168 miles away. Within a year, Patricius died.
Carthage was a very large city, one of the five most important cities in the Roman Empire. It was a place where all cultures met. When Augustine returned home, he preached the Manichaeian heresy, a dualism of good and evil where human soul is the battleground for these two. Monica chased her from her table.
Soon, the poor mother had a vision that convinced her to reconcile with her son. She visited a bishop who told her “the child of those tears shall never perish.” She decided that she would reignite her attempts to reach him. Augustine sneaked away to Rome, with Monica on his tail. Once she got there, she found out he had gone on to Milan. She followed. Monica met the bishop of Milan, Ambrose, and through him, finally, Augustine converted to the Faith. The mother and son spent six months together as he prepared for his baptism in Milan, in 386. After that, they headed back towards Africa. When they stopped in Ostia, the seaport, Monica died. She was buried there and later transferred to the church of St Augustine in Rome.
Saint Monica is the patro0n saint of married women, difficult marriages, and disappointing children.
“The heart of the young man is at present too stubborn, but God’s time will come”—-Advice to St. Monica regarding her son, Augustine