St Monica

St Monica, the patron saint of mother’s blessed to have challenging children.  Her Saints Day is Aug 27th but I have been thinking about this post a lot and decided not to wait.  We’ll have to revisit her as the summer wanes. 

I have a statue on my mantel; a statue of St Monica.  Hubby brought her to me from Florida, a pretty little beach front store.  The card enclosed says:

she holds a cup, the cup of tears that she wept for her son.

Most of us have a cup like that, an ever overflowing cup. 

St Monica was the mother of St. Augustine, and she prayed for him soul and his conversion all the years he spent (in modern terms) partying and looking for himself. 

At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy and was living an immoral life.

Remember that he did not convert till he was 33 years old; so St Monica spent decades in intercession for her son.  Augustine devoted much of that time to sensuality; living with a woman out of wedlock and having at least one child with her.  Most often if your read about Augustine you see St Ambrose credited with his conversion, but that conversion certainly would not have been gained no matter the teacher St Ambrose might have been without the 16 years St Monica had devoted to pray for her son’s life and soul. 

She was the original ‘helicopter parent’ moving to follow her son each time he moved to get distance from her.

When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan.

She speaks to many of us that have had to chase our children, and their needs and pursued them with a single-mindedness that only a mother can have.  Be it another IEP meeting, another assessment, another meeting, another phone call, another dead end. 

If you read about St Monica in any Catholic reference you will find her listed as the as saint of Married women, Mothering and Alcoholics.  I admit I have not read enough about her life to see why that final connection is made; the reason for her care of mothering and wives is clear.  Her husband was an arranged marriage and a pagan whom her parents married her to even though she was already Christian. 

Monica is a model of patience. Her long years of prayer, coupled with a strong, well-disciplined character, finally led to the conversion of her hot-tempered husband, her cantankerous mother-in-law and her brilliant but wayward son, Augustine.

She sits on my mantel to remind me, daily, that our most challenging children can turn out to be the most amazing adults.


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One response to “St Monica

  1. I LOVE St. Augustine’s writings, I had never heard of St. Monica before. Thank you for writing this. Wow. I want to find my own statue of her now. Very, very cool.

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