|Berber-looking version of Monica, by John Nava|
Monica was a Berber and a Christian, the wife of a pagan Roman soldier. What we know of her comes from Augustine's recollections. Patritius, her husband, was a difficult fellow, cantankerous even. His foul temperament was offset by Monica's patience and sweetness. She worried that he and the kids were not baptized. He had a deathbed conversion, which comforted her some. By the time of their deaths, her children had apparently all become Christians. Most pleasing must have been Augustine's conversion, for she followed him to Italy, praying for him as he worked his way through the trendy philosophies of his day, notably Manichaeism and Neo-Platonism.
|The Death of Monica by Benozzo Gozzoli|
Augustine and Monica set out for Africa, which must have pleased her. Even though she was successful in her goals and respected for her piety in Italy, I do not imagine it ever felt like home to her. They stopped at Ostia, the port of Rome, probably to arrange passage. Unfortunately, she died and was buried there. Augustine of course returned to Africa, became the Bishop of Hippo, wrote a best seller, and was posthumously recognized as a Doctor of the Church.
|Monument to the saint in Santa Monica, CA|
Monica, a patient and devoted mother, carefully watched over her son until his death. She put up with a lot, before and after his conversion. Most parents aren't saints, but they too put up with a lot, and perhaps by reflecting on Monica we can appreciate them more.