Monica of Hippo

From Academic Kids

Saint Monica of Hippo (333 - 387 is a Christian saint and mother of Saint Augustine.

She was born at Tagaste in the department of Constantine. Her parents brought her up as Christian and married her to an older, pagan man named Patricius. He was a man with a great deal of energy, but also a man given to violent tempers and adultery. Augustine reports that Patricius beat Monica. Furthermore, her mother-in-law was against her and put her into great troubles.

However, Monica attended church daily and found patience. She would say to other women who had bad marriages, "If you can master your tongue, not only do you run less risk of being beaten, but perhaps you may even, one day, make your husband better." She won the favor of her mother-in-law in a short time. Eventually, she converted Patricius to Christianity and calmed his violence.

She had three children. Augustine made her very happy with his successes as a scholar and teacher, but he also made her very ashamed with his debauchery. For ten years, Augustine lived with his mistress and subscribed to Manicheism. Monica sent Augustine to a bishop to be convinced of his errors. The bishop, however, was unable to prevail, and he advised Monica simply to continue to pray for her son. He told her, "It is impossible that the son of so many tears should perish." At the age of 28, Augustine received grace, according to his Confession, and came to orthodox Christianity.

When Patricius died, Monica joined Augustine in Italy. When she was fifty-six, she died while in Ostia with Augustine preparing to leave for a return to Africa. This was not long after her son's baptism by St. Ambrose.

St. Monica's feast day in the Roman Catholic Church is May 4. She is the patron saint of wives and abuse victims.

A traditional prayer to St. Monica:

Exemplary Mother of the great Augustine, you perseveringly pursued your wayward son not with wild threats but with prayerful cries to heaven. Intercede for all mothers in our day so that they may learn to draw their children to God. Teach them how to remain close to their children, even the prodigal sons and daughters who have sadly gone astray. Amen.

Saint Monica is the namesake of a city in western Los Angeles County, Santa Monica, California, which was first visited by missionaries on the saint's feast day.


  • Englebert, Omer. The Lives of the Saints. Christopher and Anne Fremantle, trans. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1994. Nihil obstat and Imprimatur 1951.

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