St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, was born in Tagaste, northern Africa, in 332. She was brought up in a good Christian home. Her strong training was a great help to her when she married the pagan Patricius. Patricius admired his wife, but he made her suffer because of his bad temper. Monica bore this with patience and fervent prayer. At the end of her husband’s life, Monica saw her prayers answered. Patricius accepted the Christian faith in 370. He was baptized on his deathbed a year later. His mother, too, became a Christian.
St. Monica’s joy over the holy way in which her husband had died soon changed to great sorrow. She found out that her son Augustine was living a bad, selfish life. This brilliant young man had turned to a false religion and to an immoral way of life. Monica prayed and wept and did much penance for her son. She begged priests to talk to him. Augustine was brilliant, yet very stubborn. He did not want to give up his sinful life.
But Monica would not give up either. When he went to Rome without her, she followed him. At Rome, she found he had become a teacher in Milan. So Monica went to Milan. And in all those years, she never stopped praying for him. What love and faith! After years of prayers and tears, her reward came when Augustine was converted. He not only became a good Christian, as she had prayed. Augustine also became a priest, a bishop, a great writer, and a very famous saint. We celebrate his feast on August 29, the day after St. Monica’s.
Monica died in Ostia, outside Rome, in 387. Augustine was at her bedside. St. Monica is the patron of married women and of Christian mothers.
We shouldn’t become discouraged if our prayers aren’t answered right away. Like St. Monica, we should keep praying. Jesus tells us in the Gospel to ask with perseverance and we shall receive.