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27 August 2014
  + Monica, Faithful Mother +
27 August — Transferred from 4 May AD 387

Saint Monica A native of North Africa of Berber descent, Monica was the devoted mother of one of the great theologians of early Christianity. She was born to a Christian family in Tagaste, Numidia (now Souk Ahras in Algeria) but her parents married her to a pagan named Patricius. Throughout her life she sought the spiritual welfare of her children, especially that of her brilliant son, Augustine, who provides us with the details of his mother's life.

Patricius was prone to both adultery and violent rages. Still, Augustine reported that his father never beat Monica, likely because she remained obedient and faithful to her husband. She also faced ongoing interference and resentment from her mother-in-law. After she was widowed at a fairly young age, Monica devoted herself to her family. She prayed especially for many years for Augustine's conversion from Manichaeism, a dualistic religious philosophy, and for his release from an immoral lifestyle that included a concubine and a son born out of wedlock.

When Augustine left North Africa to go to Italy, she followed him to Rome and then Milan. There she had the joy of witnessing her son's conversion to the Christian faith and his baptism by the Bishop of Milan, Saint Ambrose.

Following her son's conversion and baptism, Saint Monica hoped to travel back to Africa with her sons Augustine and Navigius. However, her travels weakened her and she died at Ostia Antica, Italy, the Roman seaport. On some ecclesial calendars, Monica is remembered on 4 May. Following changes during Vatican II, many churches have moved her commemoration to the day before Christendom celebrates the life and work of her famous son.

The customary spelling of this saint's name has been with one "n." However, her original tomb in Ostia was discovered after World War II bearing the name "Monnica." Was it for many years misspelled (even by her son) or did an artisan make a mistake when carving her inscription? Whichever the spelling, her remains no longer rest in the tomb in Ostia; they were transferred in 1430 to the Church of St. Augustine in Rome.

That she remains in Italy is, in part, testimony to her own thoughts and beliefs. Just before she died, she told her sons, "It does not matter where you bury my body. Do not let that worry you. All I ask of you is that, wherever you may be, you should remember me at the altar of the Lord." When asked of her fears at the thought of leaving her body in an strange land, she replied, "Nothing is far from God, and I need 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."

Because the region was visited by missionaries on her feast day, the city of Santa Monica, California was named in her honor.

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