St. Monica (333-387) was born in Tagaste, northern Africa and died in Ostia, near Rome. Monica was a Christian, but her husband Patricius was a pagan and a man of loose morals. Monica's virtues and prayers, however, converted him, and he was baptized a year before his death. When her son, Augustine, joined the Manichean sect and went astray in faith and morals, Monica's tears and prayers for her son were incessant. She followed him to Milan, where Augustine went to teach, and there continued to storm heaven with her prayers for her son. Finally, she had the joy of witnessing St. Ambrose baptize Augustine in 387. She died in Ostia, as she and her son gazed at the sea and discoursed about the joys of the blessed.
St. Monica is an example of those holy matrons of the ancient Church who proved very influential in their own quiet way. Through prayer and tears she gave the great Augustine to the Church of God, and thereby earned for herself a place of honor in the history of God's kingdom on earth.
Patron: Abuse victims; alcoholics; alcoholism; difficult marriages; disappointing children; homemakers; housewives; married women; mothers; victims of adultery; victims of unfaithfulness; victims of verbal abuse; widows; wives.
Symbols: Monstrance; IHC on a tablet; veil or handkerchief; open book; girdle; staff; tears.
Prayer: Exemplary Mother of the great Augustine, you perseveringly pursued your wayward son not with wild threats but with prayerful cries to heaven. Intercede for all mothers in our day so that they may learn to draw their children to God. Teach them how to remain close to their children, even the prodigal sons and daughters who have sadly gone astray. Amen.
St. Augustine of Hippo
Augustine Aurelius was born on November 13, 354, in Tagaste, North Africa. His father was a pagan, his mother, St. Monica. Still unbaptized and burning for knowledge, he came under the influence of the Manicheans, which caused his mother intense sorrow. He left Africa for Rome, deceiving his mother, who was ever anxious to be near him. She prayed and wept. A bishop consoled her by observing that a son of so many tears would never be lost. Yet the evil spirit drove him constantly deeper into moral degeneracy, capitalizing on his leaning toward pride and stubbornness. Grace was playing a waiting game; there still was time, and the greater the depths into which the evil spirit plunged its fledgling, the stronger would be the reaction.
Restless is the heart until it rests in God. The tears of his mother, the sanctity of Milan's Bishop Ambrose, the book of St. Anthony the hermit, and the sacred Scriptures wrought his conversion, which was sealed by baptism on Easter night 387. Augustine's mother went to Milan with joy and witnessed her son's baptism. It was what it should have been, the greatest event of his life, his conversion — metanoia. Grace had conquered. Augustine accompanied his mother to Ostia, where she died. She was eager to die, for now she had given birth to her son for the second time.
In 388 he returned to Tagaste, where he lived a common life with his friends. In 391 he was ordained priest at Hippo, in 394 made coadjutor to bishop Valerius, and then from 396 to 430 bishop of Hippo.
Augustine, numbered among the four great Doctors of the Western Church, possessed one of the most penetrating minds of ancient Christendom. He was the most important Platonist of patristic times, the Church's most influential theologian, especially with regard to clarifying the dogmas of the Trinity, grace, and the Church. He was a great speaker, a prolific writer, a saint with an inexhaustible spirituality.
Patron: diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan; printers; city of Saint Augustine, Florida; diocese of Saint Augustine, Florida; sore eyes; diocese of Superior, Wisconsin; theologians; diocese of Tucson, Arizona.
Symbols: flaming heart pierced by two arrows; eagle; child with shell and spoon; word Veritas with rays of light from Heaven; chalice; dove; pen and book; scroll; scourge; model of a church; Bible opened to Romans XIII; child; shell.
A prayer by St. Augustine
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, That my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, That I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, To defend all that is holy;
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, That I always may be holy. Amen.