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St. Monica was born in 332 to Christian parents in present day Algeria to Christian parents and married at the age 13 or 14 to an older man named Patricius, who was neither wealthy nor Christian. He has also been described as an ill tempered man who was unfaithful to her. In addition, she had to deal with a live-in mother-in-law who was constantly criticizing her. She sought refuge in God through an intimate prayer life and in her three children: Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. (It is believed that two other children died in infancy.) In answer to her constant prayers, both her mother-in-law and her husband Patricius converted to Christianity. Monica had been praying for the two of them for 20 years. Patricius died the following year.
At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a student in Carthage. Augustine kept bad company and was immersed in “a cauldron of illicit loves.” He took a Carthaginian woman as his mistress and lived with her for fifteen years. Monica prayed constantly for his faith, but the faith he adopted was as a Manichean. For a while, Monica banned him from her house. In her sorrow a certain bishop consoled her: “Don’t worry, it is impossible that a son of so many tears should be lost.” Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him.
When he was 29, Augustine left North Africa for a teaching position in Italy and Monica tried to follow him, but he was determined to go alone, so he tricked her into believing that he was only visiting the port to say goodbye to a friend, when he was actually leaving. Monica followed him anyway and found him seriously depressed and tried to arrange a wealthy marriage for him. The faithful mistress had left their son with him and had returned to Carthage. Augustine took another mistress and then became engaged to wealthy young woman, whom he later abandoned when he decided to take a vow of celibacy. Augustine had met Ambrose, the archbishop of Milan, and was influenced greatly by him.
For a while, Monica lived with Augustine and her grandson in a country cottage in Milan, where where they lived in community with friends and his brother, Navigus and she served as the housekeeper. Here she found St. Ambrose, who became her spiritual director, and through him, she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity, after seventeen years of resistance. Augustine was baptized by Ambrose in 387 in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan.
Augustine tired of teaching and resolved to return to North Africa. The family set out on their journey, stopping at Cività Vecchia and then at Ostia. Here Monica died in peace and the finest pages of Augustine’s “Confessions” were penned as the result of the emotion he then experienced.
St. Monica is the patron of abuse victims, alcoholics, alcoholism, Bevilacqua, Italy, difficult marriages, disappointing children, homemakers, housewives, Mabini, Bohol, Philippines, married women, mothers, victims of adultery, victims of unfaithfulness, victims of verbal abuse, widows, wives.