Saint of the week - Monica of Carthage
Born: About 331, in Tagaste (now in Algeria)
Died: 387 in Ostia (Italy) - the exact date is not known
Patron of: Long-suffering wives and mothers, lapsed Catholics, and alcoholics.
Feast day: August 27
This is the saint most known as a mother, being the mother of the famous bishop and theologian Augustine of Hippo. In many ways she lived a typical life of the a woman of the Roman empire, even though she was born and bred, and spent most of her life, in Northern Africa. She was of Berber descent and raised a Christian - which still did not stop her parents from marrying her off to a pagan, Patricius, who held an official position in Tagaste as curialis. The couple had four children, Augustine being the eldest, and Monica's married life was far from simple - worrying about her son who cared for more worldly things than the state of his soul, having to deal with a mother-in-law who cared little for Monica, and a husband prone to drinking, adultery and violence. But Monica was a good Christian girl, she did not put up a fight but remained sweet and gentle and in time overcame the opposition of her mother-in-law and even turned her husband into a good Christian.
She had more trouble with Augustine. He wanted an academic career, he cared little for Christianity, and liked his wine and his women. When he was 29 he got an academic post in Rome - but Monica did not want him to go, fearing for what it might do to him. He sneaked away, anyway, and all she could do was to follow him. Which was exactly what she did. She followed him to Rome and then to Milan where she met his mentor Ambrose, a Christian bishop, who in the end was the one to baptise Augustine and give some peace to his mother. A few months after this Monica left her son, returning home - but she only made it to Ostia, the port town of Rome, where she died peacefully.