Monica was born, to a Christian family, in 333 A.D. at Tagaste, North Africa. She had a pious upbringing, but, at a young age, was married to a pagan official named Patricius. Monica's prayers and endurance allowed them to have a peaceful marriage in spite of his bad-temper and adultery. Together, they had three children, Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua.
Monica's constant prayers for her husband led to his deathbed conversion, giving his wife much consolation. However, her prayers were immediately turned to her eldest son, Augustine. He confesses in his writings to having been a lazy and troublesome youth. Throughout the time he spent in school, first in Madaura and then in Carthage, his mother was concerned for the state of his soul. When he returned to her, at the age of 19, as a heretic, having entered the Manichaean sect, she became greatly alarmed and increased in her efforts for his salvation.
Augustine records in his Confessions a dream which Monica received around this time. "In her dream she saw herself standing on a sort of wooden rule, and saw a bright youth approaching her, joyous and smiling at her, while she was grieving and bowed down with sorrow. But when he inquired of her the cause of her sorrow and daily weeping (not to learn from her, but to teach her, as is customary in visions), and when she answered that it was my soul's doom she was lamenting, he bade her rest content and told her to look and see that where she was there I was also. And when she looked she saw me standing near her on the same rule."
Not long after receiving this dream, Monica approached a bishop who had also been a Manichaean before entering the Church. She pleaded with him to intercede with her son but he saw that, at this time, anything he might say would only make the situation worse, since Augustine was not yet open to hearing the truth. However, this bishop assured Monica that "the child of those tears shall never perish."
Monica spent 9 years in anguished prayer for her son, even following him to Rome and Milan. While in Milan, she encountered Bishop Ambrose who assisted in her efforts to bring Augustine to the faith.
The two eventually succeeded and, a few months after Augustine's conversion, Monica passed away in the ancient port city of Ostia where she was buried. Augustine recounted her in his Confessions: "I will not speak of her gifts, but of Thy gift in her; for she neither made herself nor trained herself. Thou didst create her, and neither her father nor mother knew what kind of being was to come forth from them. And it was the rod of Thy Christ, the discipline of Thy only Son, that trained her in Thy fear, in the house of one of Thy faithful ones who was a sound member of Thy Church."
St. Monica is the patroness of: abuse victims; alcoholics; the Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers; Bevilacqua, Italy; difficult marriages; disappointing children; homemakers; housewives; Mabini, Bohol, Philippines; married women; mothers; victims of adultery; victims of unfaithfulness; victims of verbal abuse; widows; and wives.