St. Monica is best known for her role as mother to St. Augustine. Born in 331 AD in present-day Algeria, Monica was married off to a Roman man named Patricius at a young age. Though both Patricius and his mother, who lived with the couple, shared the same violent temper, Patricius was respectful of Monica’s religious beliefs.
Despite his respect for her beliefs, Patricius would not let Monica baptize the couples’ three children until Augustine became sick. A year before Patricius’ death, Monica’s excellent example of Christianity led to the conversion of her husband and mother-in-law.
Two of Monica and Patricius’ children entered the religious life, but Augustine, despite his early baptism, refused to even acknowledge his religious background--instead, living a promiscuous and sinful life. Augustine’s life choices would ultimately plague Monica, who was a devout Christian, and she spent 17 years praying for the conversion of her son.
Monica sent Augustine off to be educated, hoping this would encourage him to live a better life. Unfortunately, he developed views that were contrary to Monica’s faith and her disappointment in him grew. Monica eventually had a vision that told her to reconcile with her son, and when she shared her sorrow and worries with a bishop, he told her “the child of those tears shall never perish.”
Eventually, Monica connected her son Augustine with St. Ambrose who helped to bring about his conversion. After discovering Monica’s habit of offering food and wine for the saints as a form of prayer, Ambrose discouraged her from the practice, saying an offering of wine “might be an occasion of gluttony for those who were already given to drink,” so Monica refrained from the practice from then on.
St. Monica is often depicted pleading with God with tears on her face to depict her desperate wish for the conversion of her son and her life of devoted prayer to God.
St. Monica is the patron saint of wives, mothers, conversions, alcoholics, and abuse victims.