Saint Monica was a woman who never gave up. Despite the many personal obstacles she faced, her holy example and long hours of daily prayer brought about the conversion of her husband, her husband’s mother, and her sons, Saints Augustine and Navigius, to say say nothing of accomplishing her own sainthood.
Born into a Christian family in Tagaste, Northern Africa, in AD 332, Monica received a strict upbringing from the family maid, who would not even allow her a drink of water other than at mealtime. Why? Because, as she warned Monica and others in her care, “You drink water now because you cannot get at the wine. When you marry and are in charge of your own wine cellar, you won’t want water, and you will continue your custom of drinking.”
Monica, it seems, paid no heed. Her parents would send her to the cellar to bring wine for their meals, and Monica began by taking little tastes before bringing it to the table. In time, tastes became mouthfuls, and mouthfuls, whole cups. Thus, she fell into sin, as her son Saint Augustine later wrote, “little by little,” drop by drop, as so many do.
One day the maid caught Monica drinking and called her a “wino.” Deeply hurt by this insult, Monica admitted to herself her sad condition and turned away from it. As Augustine later wrote: “Just as flattering friends can bring us down, so quarrelsome enemies can correct us.”
Excerpted from Fr. T. G. Morrow’s book Who’s Who in Heaven. For ordering information, visit our website.
Note: May 4 was her feastday on the old (pre-1969) calendar; it is now celebrated on August 27, the day before her son St. Augustine’s feast.