Monica of Hippo: A Christian Saint
The life of Monica of Hippo, also spelled Monnica, is laid out in a book written by her son Augustine, one of the most prolific Christian writers. In his book Confessions, her life of struggle and dedication to being kind to others is laid out in the pages of this emotional page turner. It is estimated that Saint Monica was born in the region of 331, and passed away in 387. Her name suggests that she was of Berber descent, and her early life was plagued by a difficult marriage and fight to retain her identity.
Married at an early age, Monica was wed to a man by the name of Patritius, who was an official in Tagaste, known today as Souk Ahras. He was of pagan religion, whereas Monica held onto her Christianity. Patritius was also known to be an extremely violent and ill-tempered man, making everyday life for Monica difficult. He disapproved of many of her habits, especially her prayer sessions. With his mother sharing the beliefs of her son, Monica was very unhappily married. But not even their attacks could dull Monica’s patience and kindhearted nature. Women of the community living under the same circumstances looked up to Monica. They not only identified with her pain, but listened to every word she spoke and tried to live up to the example she set.
Monica had three children, two sons and a daughter, of which Augustine was the eldest. When Augustine fell ill, she begged her husband’s permission to baptize her son, something she was not able to do previously. Under the circumstances Patritius consented, but withdrew his consent after Augustine recovered. Augustine writes that he was lazy as a child and became wayward, which caused his mother great concern. In the interim, Patritius converted to Christianity and died shortly thereafter. Monica never married again. /p>
Augustine returned home, but was chased away by Monica when he revealed that he had converted to the Manichean religion. But something compelled Monica to reconcile with her son, so she travelled to Rome and then to Milan to find him. It took Augustine seventeen years to convert to Christianity, but he finally did.
Augustine was baptized, and mother and son found their calling in Africa, where they worked together to assist others and spread the Christian religion. On one of their return journeys to Africa, Monica fell ill in Ostia, Rome, and she was quoted saying: “You will bury your mother here. All I ask of you is that, wherever you may be, you should remember me at the altar of the Lord. Do not fret because I am buried far from our home in Africa. Nothing is far from God, and I have no fear that he will not know where to find me, when he comes to raise me to life at the end of the world.” Her gravestone was stumbled upon in 1945, and as the inscription stipulates, Saint Monica will always be remembered for her kindness and for her children, namely Augustine, who continued her work.