Why is Saint Monica the Patron Saint of Motherhood?

Why is Saint Monica the Patron Saint of Motherhood?

Written by Katie Ekblad Traver, friend of Stella & Tide

Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo, was born to Christian parents in North Africa around 333 AD. Very little is known about her childhood or family life. She was raised Christian, and when she was very young, she was married to a pagan Roman official named Patritius.

Saint Monica’s Marriage

Monica’s marriage was anything but happy. Her husband Patritius was known for his violent temper and uncontrollable bad habits. Patritius’ mother was no different; her miserable disposition and wicked temper contributed to Monica’s very unhappy life.

Monica’s marriage was anything but happy. Her husband Patritius was known for his violent temper and uncontrollable bad habits. Patritius’ mother was no different; her miserable disposition and wicked temper contributed to Monica’s very unhappy life.

The turmoils of Monica’s marriage were no secret. The pagan villagers of her town were well versed in Patritius’ easily irritable personality. Monica’s patience and gentle nature through these trials gave her an excellent reputation among the pagan women. Soon enough, she grew to be very well known and respected for her tranquility.

Monica was piously devoted to her faith. Although this habit of piety initially annoyed her new husband, as they grew together, Patritius grew to respect Monica’s devotion and discipline within her faith.

Devotion to Prayer & Family

Monica and Patritius had three children together: Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. Upon their birth, Monica was unable to secure baptism for any of her children. She begged Patritus to consent, but he would not allow it. Monica grew with anxiety over the faith of her children, particularly her eldest Augustine who was prone to laziness and less than reputable behavior. Hoping to benefit their son, Monica and Patritius sent Augustine to Madura for school.

In his absence, Monica seemed to literally wrestle in isolation for the soul of her son, and Augustine seemed only driven further into paganism and uncouth behavior. But there was hope: while Augustine was away, Patritius converted to Christianity, thanks to the inspiring life led by his wife. Very shortly after his reception into the church, Patritius passed away. Grieved by his death, but finding peace in the baptism of her husband, Monica vowed never to marry again. Having saved the soul of her husband, she was now only devoted to saving the soul of her son.

During his time away, Augustine left Madura and was sent to Carthage to pursue further studies. While there, he dabbled in a very trendy faith at the time called Manichaeism. Upon a visit home, Augustine shared this faith with his mother. It is said that Augustine conveyed such heretical beliefs to Monica that she drove him away from her table. This argument only added fire to the animosity between them.

Time passed and Monica remained distant from Augustine. This continued until one night she had a vision beckoning her to reconcile with her lost son. When the vision had passed, Monica rushed to confide in a local Bishop. While sharing the grief she felt over her lost son, the Bishop comforted her, saying, “The child of tears shall never perish.” With these inspirational words in her heart, Monica set out to follow her lost son to Rome.

When Monica arrived in Rome, she learned that her son had left the city for Milan. Pushing her exhaustion aside, Monica persisted to Milan. When Monica arrived in Milan, she met with St. Ambrose. She shared the story of her wayward son, and St. Ambrose advised her to “talk less to your son about God and talk more to God about your son.” Monica took these words to heart and laid her son’s cause at the foot of the cross.

After 17 years of resistance, Augustine yielded and converted to Christianity. Monica and Augustine spent six months together in true peace, and Augustine was baptized into the faith. Not long after his conversion, Monica passed away. Inspired by the grief for his devoted mother, Augustine wrote some of the most compelling pages of The Confessions.

Patron Saint of Mothers

St. Monica is the patron saint of mothers for a very good reason: Her desperate life journey to save the soul of her husband and son is one of the most noble and inspirational stories in our Church history.

Having spent most of her life in spiritual isolation and misery, it would have made much more sense for St. Monica to despair and fall into the pagan religions of her town. But instead of sacrificing the truth for her own happiness, St. Monica devoted herself to an unhappy, selfless life of praying for those around her.

It is difficult to live as a Catholic when you are surrounded by family and friends who leave the faith to pursue other more attractive ‘religions’—be it the religion of ambition, sexuality, wealth or fame. Now more than ever, families are scattered throughout the world, with very few choosing to stick to Catholicism. As a mother, sister, or friend, this feeling of St. Monica’s grief and anxiety resonates deeply with us. But much like St. Monica, we must be persistent, for “the child [friend, or sibling] of tears shall never perish.”

May we all have the stubborn faith of St. Monica. For with our prayers, God will always bring the lost ones home.

St. Monica is available as a charm selection for our Custom Saint Necklace, Custom Saint Bracelet, and Floral Cross & Saint Necklace

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