Patroness of Lost Children, Pray for Us!
The funerary epitaph of St. Monica, Patron of Lost Souls, was itself lost until 1945. Just as Monica's unceasing prayers unearthed the jewel that became St. Augustine, the stone upon which Monica's tribute was written was found by two boys digging at the Church of Santa Aurea. It read:
“Here the most virtuous mother of a young man set her ashes, a second light to your merits, Augustine. As a priest, serving the heavenly laws of peace, you taught the people entrusted to you with your character. A glory greater than the praise of your accomplishments crowns you both - Mother of the Virtues, more fortunate because of her offspring”.
St. Monica is the Patron Saint of many things related to marriage, family, and children. However, it is her patronage of the wayward that encapsulates the essence of her holiness. Most people know about Augustine, but did you know that Monica helped two others find God? The souls of Monica's husband, and her mother-in-law forever tied to her prayers and perseverance:
Her mother-in-law also, at first by whisperings of evil servants incensed against her, she so overcame by observance and persevering endurance and meekness, that she of her own accord discovered to her son the meddling tongues whereby the domestic peace betwixt her and her daughter-in-law had been disturbed...and none now venturing, they lived together with a remarkable sweetness of mutual kindness.
Brought up thus modestly and soberly, and made subject rather by Thee to her parents, than by her parents to Thee, so soon as Monica was of marriageable age, being bestowed upon a husband, she served him as her lord; and did her diligence to win him unto Thee, preaching Thee unto him by her conversation; by which Thou ornamented her, making her reverently amiable, and admirable unto her husband....For she looked for Thy mercy upon him, that believing in Thee, he might be made chaste.
Finally, her own husband, towards the very end of his earthly life, did she gain unto Thee...She was also the servant of Thy servants; whosoever of them knew her, did in her much praise and honour and love Thee; for that through the witness of the fruits of a holy conversation they perceived Thy presence in her heart.
These three paragraphs from Book XI of Augustine's Confessions, from which almost all of the life of Monica is known to the world, describe her virtues -- which almost entirely mirror the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit:
Charity; Joy; Peace; Patience; Benignity; Goodness; Long-suffering; Mildness; Faith; Modesty; Continency;
Surely, the years spent in service to God for her husband and mother-in-law prepared the way for the seventeen years she labored successfully on behalf of her son, Augustine.
What can we learn from the example of this holy woman? Monica was able to win souls of her family members who were inexplicably lost without her aid. We too can live and love like her; the fruits of the Holy Spirit grow in our souls with prayer and our practice of Virtue.