FEast: Aug. 27th
mothers, wives, abuse survivors, difficult marriages
Monica was born in what is now Algeria and was likely part of a group called the Berbers. She was married when she was very young to a pagan Roman officer that lived in her hometown. He was annoyed by her Christian habits, prayers, and actions, and was likely abusive to her, also cheating on her multiple times. Her mother-in-law was just as bad as her husband, apparently, and the two were cruel to her despite her patience and holiness. She also suffered the losses of children who died at birth, and only three survived past childhood - the eldest was future St. Augustine of Hippo. Augustine, however, lived the furthest thing from a saintly life in his youth, and Monica wept for him nightly. She worried about his behavior and choices with her anxiety coming to a head the day he returned from University and found his beliefs to be changed even further and differing drastically from her own. Though her disappointment and shock caused her to become angry at him and drive him away at first, she soon realized that this was not the Christian way to respond and apologized.
By then, Monica's husband and in-laws had passed away, and, miraculously, her patience, endurance, and love had converted them both, her husband baptized a year before his death. Augustine, however, still worried her to no end, especially when he tricked her and lied, setting sail for Rome to continue his studies.
Monica decided to follow Augustine there, and it was there that, after a long and difficult journey, she met St. Ambrose who became her close friend and advisor. Augustine had come to know him as well and respected him deeply, resulting in his own conversion. Monica and Augustine lived together happily for 6 months as Augustine was baptized and began to write his "Confessions" book, but on the journey back to Africa, Monica passed away. She had told Augustine, however, that at the time of her death, she could not have been happier than she was, then.
you know a thing or two about patience. You had some extreme burdens to bear, but you never gave up on them, and your intense love and prayers paid off. be with us when all we can do is patiently wait. Bring us serenity, and keep our spirits and love strong.
Monica's grief, disappointment, and "weepiness" are well known. Her distress over her son's way of living and lack of faith consumed her for many years. However, we must remember that she was also strong enough to endure all the demands of her day on top of an abusive relationship and journeys later in life. She carried herself well despite her mourning and still showed up to her life and for others every day, never giving up. I wanted her to appear like this in her icon, with an arrow-shaped pendant resembling the points that also pierced Mary's heart in sorrow over her son.