Born: A.D. 333 Died: A.D. 387
What she said
"Nothing is far from God."
What the world was like
Just before Monica's birth, the first Christian emperor, Constantine, called the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) to settle the controversy over the nature of the Blessed Trinity. This council proclaimed the nature of the Blessed Trinity -- one God in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In A.D. 381, a few years before Monica's death, the Council of Constantinople affirmed the work of the Council of Nicaea and added a longer section on the Holy Spirit. The creed they proclaimed was then known as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, and is the creed we proclaim at the Eucharist today. Today we call this creed "the Nicene Creed."
During Monica's lifetime, paganism was still widespread, and Christians were in the minority. Near the end of her life, the Huns invaded Europe. Eventually, these "barbarians" would reach Rome itself, in A.D. 410. The fall of Rome to these invaders inspired Monica's famous son, Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, to write his book titled The City of God, a theological and philosophical work about God's action in the world.
Who she was
Saint Monica was born in A.D. 333, into a middle-class Christian family. She was born in Thagaste, North Africa, in what is now Algeria. As a young woman, she was given in marriage to an older pagan man named Patricius. He had an uncontrolled temper and mistreated Monica. Monica depended on her faith to keep her strong and calm. In time, both Monica's husband and her mother-in-law were converted to the Christian faith. She had at least three children (two sons and one daughter). Her most well-known child is Augustine. As a young man, Augustine was a talented scholar. He resisted the Sacrament of Baptism and chose to follow Manichaeanism, a quasi-Christian philosophy that believed the world was the creation of the powers of evil, not of God. Monica, however, never stopped praying for his conversion to the truth of Catholicism. After years of his mother's prayers, Saint Augustine responded to the grace of God and was baptized as a Christian by his friend and mentor, Saint Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, Italy. Soon after her son's Baptism, Monica died. Her greatest hope was fulfilled.
What this saint means to us today
Saint Monica never gave up. She truly lived the words of Jesus -- to pray always and never lose heart. (See Luke 18:1.) In addition to her prayer, she was also well-known for helping the poor and the neglected. She has been declared the patron saint of mothers and married women. Her patience and strength in the midst of family life can encourage us to find solutions to our own difficulties, in both prayer and action. She also reminds us that no matter what others say or do, we can find our true selves, our true dignity, and our true integrity in God.Intermediate Activity