You may not have heard of her, but you've surely heard of her son...
St. Monica was born in the African city of Tegaste, of Christian parents. She was married at an early age to a pagan, Patricius, and had three children, the oldest of whom was the great Doctor of the Church, Saint Augustine of Hippo. The household was thoroughly Roman by language, culture and persuasion. Despite Monica’s own Christianity, her children were not baptized in the faith, although their childhood was suffused by it due to Monica’s devotion and influence.
Monica’s life was a difficult one. She patiently suffered through the dissolute life of her husband and abuse from her mother-in-law. Yet, her piety and patient charity won the conversion of her husband Patricius one year before his death, and the conversion of his mother as well.
Her son Augustine was of great concern to Monica. At the age of 19 he rejected his mother’s faith. His mother followed him to various places and he was finally able to resolve his doubts about Christianity and was baptized during the Easter celebrations of his thirty-third year of life. Monica’s long years of prayer had thus been answered and she died in-route to her home, in the port city of Ostia, in October 387, the year of Augustine’s baptism into Catholicism.
St. Monica is honored as a model for virtuous Christian mothers. She is the patron saint of ecclesiastical societies of mothers, of women, and of all mothers. Since 1430 her relics have been venerated in the Arrouaise Augustine monastery in the city of Rome, in the Church of San Agostino. Her feast day is celebrated universally on 27 August.