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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Saint Monica, Widow, mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo

Saint Monica, Widow
Monica was an example of Christian motherhood, wifely forbearance, and holy widowhood. She was doubly the mother of Saint Augustine, for she not only brought him forth to bodily life, but also travailed in penance and prayer for twenty years for his spiritual birth unto eternal life. She was born in 333, probably at Tagaste, sixty miles from Carthage, of Christian parents, by whom she was given in marriage to a pagan, Patricius by name, who was a violent and dissolute man. Him she finally won to Christianity, and also her mother-in-law, who lived with them, and had often added much to her difficulties. Augustine, the first-born son, was a brilliant but wayward lad, who after his father’s death, although he had been admitted a as a catechumen, began to live a most immoral, life, and then embraced the Manichaean heresy. For him she stormed heaven with her prayers ; she fasted ; she watched and waited ; and when she grew discouraged a bishop told her : It is not possible that the son of so many prayers and tears should perish. * She followed him from Carthage to Rome, and thence to Milan, where they both came under the influence of Saint Ambrose, and where Augustine was converted and baptized. Meanwhile she had always given herself to prayer and good works, specially to ministrations to Christians who were suffering for the Faith. After a life of manifest holiness, in 387, which was the year of Augustine’s Baptism, she passed to god at Ostia, Italy, whither she had gone with her two sons Navigius and Augustine, and Augustine’s son Deodatus, thinking to return to Africa. To them she said : Let your mother lie here ; only remember me at the altar. Hence she was there buried, but long afterwards he holy body was translated to the Church of Saint Augustine in Rome. * Of her Augustine wrote : We did not think that hers was a death which it was seemly to mark with repining, or tears, or lamentations, because we knew what her life had been, her faith unfeigned, her sure and certain hope. And then, nevertheless, I remembered again what thine handmaid was used to be, her walk with thee, how godly and holy it was, and with us so gentle and long-suffering ; and that it was all gone away from me now. And I wept over her and for her. And if any man will make it blame for me, I pray him not to sneer at me, but rather (if his charity be so great) himself to weep over my sins before thee, who art a Father to all them to whom thy Christ is a Brother.
O God, the comforter of them that mourn, and the hope of them that put their trust in thee, who didst favorably accept the tears of blessed Monica for the conversation of Augustine her son: grant, we pray thee, that at the intercession of these thy servants, we may so bewail the sins that we have committed, that we may be worthy to obtain the abundant pardon of thy grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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