St. Augustine’s remarkable mother

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By Nirmla Motoomull


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

SAINT Monica of Africa is the remarkable mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo, our patron saint here in Cagayan de Oro.

We will be celebrating our feast day tomorrow, August 28. I have written about St. Augustine already in my previous issue of August 24, 2011.

Let us be acquainted with St. Monica to be more acquainted with St. Augustine.


The homage paid by people of every age is prompted by the calvary she experienced for 17 years. She shines as a model of perseverance in prayer and patience.

Monica was born of Christian parents at Tagaste, Northern Africa. Her parents arranged a marriage for her with a pagan named Patricius, who held an important civic position at Tagaste.

Like the ordinary pagan of his time, Patricius was a man of dissolute habits, and Monica suffered a great deal from his mean temper and infidelity.

Monica’s married life at the very outset was an unhappy one, made more difficult by a possessive mother-in-law, who had a disposition very much like that of her son.

She was so jealous of Monica that she used many means to discredit her.

Monica, however, met all these with a discreet silence that eventually won the respect of her husband.

Monica and Patricius had two sons, Augustine and Navigius, and one daughter.

Augustine was destined to be the main cross of Monica’s life.

However, although it is with Augustine’s conversion that we usually associate the name of Saint Monica, it should be remembered that she was also instrumental in bringing about the conversion of her pagan husband.

But it was after many years of prayer that she succeeded in winning Patricius over to the Christian faith.

He became a chaste husband, a devoted father and a practicing catholic. He died the year after his conversion.

When Patricius died, Augustine who was about 17, remained at Carthage and fall prey to the heresy of Manichaeaism.

He remained an adherent to this heresy for about nine years or so, living a life of unbridled immorality.

There is no more pathetic story in the drama of 4th century Christianity than that of Monica pursuing her son all over the then-known world.

At Milan, Augustine gave up his evil ways and was baptized on Easter Sunday in 378, with some of his friends.

Finally and at last, after having a mistress of 14 years and a concubine afterwards, Augustine told his mother that he intended not to marry but to live a life dedicated wholly to the church.

After Augustine’s stirring conversion, they set out on their return journey to Africa.

To the great grief of Augustine, Monica got sick on the way and died at Ostia in the year 387 at the age of fifty-four.

St. Monica lived in the 4th century, but the problems she solved by patience and prayer are still the problems we encounter in our time.

It might be troublesome family members and in-laws, an unmanageable son who misses school, a negligent daughter who keeps away from the sacraments, or a child who has gone too far with bad companions so as to resort to drugs.

The last but not the least, it might be a cruel spouse who drinks constantly or has illicit affair.

St. Monica’s answer to these seemingly endless crosses were patient and persevering prayer, anchored in a supreme confidence in God.

Prayer is a therapy and cure: Prayer with perseverance, devotion, attention, trust and confidence.

When we feel we are at the end of our rope with some excruciating dilemma, let us make a knot on that rope, the strong knot of prayer, and hang on to that knot until God rescues us.

May we ask Saint Monica of Africa for her intercession and follow her good example at all times.

Happy Fiesta to all of us!


Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 27, 2014.


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