Monday, January 22, 2007

Why is St. Monica a saint?

Who's asking: An anonymous Google searcher from somewhere in North America

St. Monica (333-387) was the mother of St. Augustine (354-430). Monica's husband, Patritius, drank and beat her until Monica's patience and prayers helped to change his nature, and won his conversion to Christianity. Monica's charity and faithfulness annoyed her son Augustine, but ultimately inspired him, and her constant prayers are credited with Augustine's conversion from Manichaeism to Catholicism. She was the one who introduced Augustine to St. Ambrose, who became Augustine's mentor and confessor. Monica is the patroness of the Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers, whose object is mutual prayer for straying sons and husbands.

Today we would call St. Monica co-dependent, and urge her to seek treatment; she would probably leave Patritius, wash her hands of Augustine, write a self-help book and host a talk show. I'm not sure this is progress.

The California city of Santa Monica is named because explorers found it on St. Monica's traditional feast day, May 4. Since Vatican II, the church has celebrated the feast of St. Monica on August 27, the day before the feast of St. Augustine.


steve said...

I'm not exactly sure you answered the question. I understand she was a good person and converted her husband, etc. but is that ALL you have to do to become sainted? Aren't there specific criteria? In fact I thought sainthood actually required 3 documented miracles (at least that's what I saw in a movie once).

AnswerGirl said...

I will answer this question even though you misspelled my name, Stephe.

It is true that the Catholic church now sets specific criteria for sainthood, but things were a little looser back in the 13th century, when her "cult" first emerged -- that is, when people first started to pray to her.

Recognizing the growing number of people praying to Monica, Pope Martin V, in 1430, ordered that her remains be brought from their resting place in Ostia, the ancient harbor of Rome, into the city itself. As her relics were carried from one place to another, several miracles were recorded along the route, and her sainthood seemed to be confirmed. I didn't find anything that mentioned what these miracles were, specifically.