Monica, St

Monica, St.

the mother of at. Augustine, "counted," says Schaff, "among the most noble and pious women who adorn the temple of Church history," was born, according to tradition, of Christian parents, in Africa, about the year 332. Having attained to the age of womanhood she was married to Patrice of Tagaste, a heathen of Numidia, by whom she had two sons and one daughter. She was instrumental in the conversion of her husband a year before his death, after having spent with him years in hardship and sore trial. He was of violent temperament, and unfaithful to her in conjugal duties, yet she met all his shortcomings by a Christian spirit of forgiveness and love. and thus at last conquered in the name of her Saviour, whom she adored and faithfully followed. "Her highest aim," says Schaff, " was to win him over to the faith — not so much by words as by a truly humble and godly conversation, and the most conscientious discharge of her household duties" (Life of St. Augustine, page 10). The same earnestness which she displayed for the conversion of her husband she manifested also for the spiritual safety of her children. She was especially anxious for her son Augustine, who in his youth was given to dissipation, having inherited from his father strong sensual passions, and who had embraced the Manichaean heresy, which she feared would ultimately ruin his spiritual life. For thirty years she therefore uninterruptedly prayed for his conversion. "A son of so many prayers and tears," says Schaff, "could not be lost, and the faithful mother, who travailed with him in spirit with greater pain than her body had in bringing him into the world (Augustine, Confess. 9, c. 8), was permitted, for the encouragement of future mothers, to receive, shortly before her death, an answer to her prayers and expectations, and was able to leave this world with joy without revisiting her earthly home." Augustine had embraced Christianity at Milan, whither he had gone in 384. Hither his mother followed him, and together they worshipped under the ministration of St. Ambrose. In the spring of 387, shortly after his baptism, they had quitted Rome to return to Africa, and it was on this homeward journey that Monica died, in Ostia, at the mouth of the Tiber, in 387, in the arms of her son, after enjoying with him a glorious conversation that soared above the confines of space and time, and was a foretaste of the eternal Sabbath-rest of the saints. She regretted not to die, aye, not even in a foreign land, because she was not far from God, who would raise her up at the last day. "Bury my body anywhere," was her last request, "and trouble not yourselves for it: only this one thing I ask, that you remember me at the altar of my God, wherever you may be." Augustine, in his Confessions, has erected to Monica the noblest monument, and it can never perish. The Roman Catholic Church keeps May 4 in commemoration of her. Pope Martin V gives an account of the translation of her remains to Rome in 1430. See St. Augustine, Confessions; Godescard, Vie des Saints; Braune, Monica u. Augustinus (1846); Petet, Histoire de Sainte-Monique (1848); Schaff, Life and Labors of St. Augustine (N.Y. 1854), chapters 1, 4, 8; Mrs. Jamieson, Legends (see Index); Schaff, Ch. Hist. 3:991, 992; Neander, Ch. Hist. 2:227. SEE AUGUSTINE. (J.H.W.)

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