Saint Monica: The Patron Saint of Mothers
I come from a Catholic Eastern-European family, where it is traditional not to give the baby a middle name at his/her Baptism. The child, at the time of their confirmation, selects a patron saint and that saint’s name becomes the child’s legal middle name.
I remember being in 8th grade, sitting in the library, looking through a beautifully illustrated book of the saints, and trying to select a patron saint for myself. My mother had always liked Rebecca (though more for the name I think), but St. Rebecca didn’t seem a fit for me; the patron saint of the sick and those who have lost parents? Neither seemed on my radar at the age of 14. I continued flipping through the book, and came across St. Monica – and sheepishly admit that I was not only enchanted by the beautiful artwork depicting her but by derivative of her name: Monique. I could be Jennifer Monique! At the peak of that angst-filled teenage search in reinventing oneself, this couture French name spoke of elegance, class, and mystique…and the decision was made.
Years (years!) later, I smile looking back – for I really believe that perhaps I didn’t choose St. Monica…perhaps there was a hand from above that opened the book to her, that made the instant connection, that guided me to her.
St. Monica is the patron saint of mothers. Monica, a Christian, was given in marriage to a pagan; both her husband and her mother-in-law criticized her on her works of charity and prayerful life. She had much to pray for, and high on her prayer list was the faith of her husband, Patricius, and son, Augustus. Her husband’s extramarital affairs never changed her loyalty to him; she continued to live their marriage in peace and prayer. Her steadfastness won Patricius over, and he – along with his mother – were Baptized…an answer to her prayers.
Her eldest son, St. Augustine, was anything *but* a saint in his young adult years. Enamored with wine and women, St. Augustine rejected the faith of his mother. She relentlessly continued her prayers for him – and followed him throughout Italy (much to his dismay) as he pursued his lifestyle of choice. Years later, in Milan, St. Augustine found himself pulled to the faith from within. Under the guidance of St. Ambrose (today a Doctor of the Church), St. Augustine was Baptized at the age of 29 and went on to become one of the most prominent leaders of the Church. Seeing her prayers answered, she said: “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She died shortly thereafter, at the age of 56.
I find such inspiration in her life! Like her, I married a non-Christian. Like her, I prayed that we could share our faith as one – and after 8 years together, my husband went through RCIA, received the sacraments, and is now a lay leader at our parish. Like her, I have family who are either struggling with their faith or have no faith at all. Like her, I have a son who I truly hope, pray, and wish nothing but the best for – and I would go to the ends of the earth to make it so. We even share a second name; her a son named Augustine, and me a God son name Austin – Austin and Augustus, both derivatives of the name Augustine.
In a world where Christianity is marginalized, her ability to be an anchor for her family has never meant more. Truly, I believe there was a reason that book – so many years ago – opened to her as I searched for my patron saint!
Jen Frost is a Catholic pattern writer, quilt designer, and crafter who evangelizes through fabric. When she’s not in front of her sewing machine, she can be found at the beach with her husband and son, toes happily buried in the sand. She writes and quilts each week at Faith and Fabric.