St Monica was born in 331 and is believed to have been of Berber origin. She married a pagan known as Patricius who was prone to violence and annoyed by Monica’s charity and pious habits.
Monica bore three children; Navigius, Perpetua and Augustine. When Augustine fell ill, Monica was greatly distressed because Augustine, like the rest of her children, was not baptised. She begged her husband to allow her to baptise Augustine and he agreed but then withdrew consent once Augustine had
Following Augustine’s recovery, he became lazy and wayward and was eventually sent to a school in Madauras. He was 17 and studying rhetoric in the city of Carthage when his father died.
During his time at Carthage Augustine became a Manichaean, a follower of a religion founded by the Iranian prophet Mani. Monica was so upset that she sent Augustine away but relented when she experienced a vision, encouraging her to reconcile with him.
St Monica visited a bishop to discuss her concerns about Augustine and he told her: “The child of those tears shall never perish.”
Monica followed Augustine to Rome but when she arrived discovered that he had gone to Milan. She persevered and followed her son to the city, where she met St Ambrose and to her joy discovered that Augustine had embraced Christianity after 17 years of resisting the faith.
Monica and Augustine spent six months in serenity at Rus Cassiciacum (now known as Cassago Brianza) and Augustine was then baptised in the church of St John the Baptist in Milan. When in 387 St Monica died, her son’s grief inspired him to write his famous book Confessions.
St Monica was buried at Ostia and her body was later moved to the sixth-century hidden crypt in the church of Santa Aurea in Osta. It was later transferred to the Augustinian Basillica of Sant’Agostino in Rome.
Around the 13th century the cult of St Monica began to spread. In 1430 Pope Martin V instructed that her relics be brought to Rome and many miracles were said to have occurred as a result.
The city of Santa Monica in California is named after this beloved saint.