By Ian Wilson (Rated G)
Perhaps one of the most significant mothers in the history of the church, besides Mary herself, St. Monica is remembered as the mother of one of the greatest theologians in Western Christianity: Augustine of Hippo.
Monica was a very pious and charitable woman who lived in the North African town of Tagaste. Although married to a pagan with a fiery temper and mothering an unbelieving son, Monica never allowed her circumstances to make her bitter. Instead, she applied herself to prayer and good works.
Upon learning that Augustine had become a member of the Manichaen heresy, she was angry at first, to the point that she refused to even allow him in her house. But the Lord told her in a vision that her son would return to the faith. Thus Monica continued in prayer and fasting for him.
One day Augustine informed his mother that he would be traveling to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica expressed a desire to accompany him; Augustine, however, was not keen on bringing his very devout mother with him on this journey of his life. He therefore snuck away to Rome by himself. Monica was heartbroken but determined to follow her son.
Upon arrival in Rome, Monica found that Augustine had moved on to Milan. Monica refused to give up on him, and followed him to the city of Milan, where she found her son under the influence of St. Ambrose, then the bishop of Milan. Ambrose then became Monica’s spiritual director and she became the leader of the devout women of Milan.
Then, on Easter of 387, Monica’s years of prayer and struggle came to fruition; Augustine was baptized into the church by St. Ambrose. Her life’s mission having been fulfilled, Monica was prepared to die in peace. After nine days of suffering, she fell asleep in the Lord.
May we all be as persistent in prayer as Monica.
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