St. Monica

Feast Day • Aug. 27

Church • Barre

Interestingly enough, what we know about St. Monica comes solely through the writings of her beloved son, St. Augustine, whose conversion she prayed so hard and long for. Some of the finest pages of his “Confessions” concern his mother, and the great love and gratitude he felt toward her for never giving up on him.

Monica was born into a Christian family in the city of Tagaste, North Africa, in 333. For some reason, her parents married her off at a young age to a pagan named Patricius, who was known chiefly for his hot temper and immoral habits. To make matters worse, Monica also lived with her mother-in-law, whose temperament was apparently as bad as her son’s. When the two of them converted to Christianity, it was said to be the result of Monica’s patience and prayers on their behalf.

But it was her son, Augustine, who would truly try her patience and her faith. Initially, Monica shunned her wayward son, but she had a dream that convinced her she should do otherwise. So instead, for 17 years she followed him everywhere, praying for his soul. Finally, her prayers were answered when her formerly wayward son was baptized by St. Ambrose in the city of Milan in 387. Having been granted the one thing she desired most in life, St. Monica died within the year at Ostia, near Rome.

St. Monica’s feast day is Aug. 27. She is the patron of alcoholics, married women, mothers and victims of abuse.

St. Monica Parish in Barre has, for many years, celebrated the patronal feast day with a Mass and meal. “The Mass has gone from outside to inside over the years, and the meal has been called a corn roast and a picnic, but it is always our way to honor our patroness by praying together and sharing a meal,” said Father Patrick Forman, pastor. A large icon of St. Monica hangs in the church.

—Originally published in the Summer 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.