Friday, August 27, 2010

Memorial of St Monica

"Monica was twice over the mother of St. Augustine, for, under God, he owed to her both earth and heaven.  When her husband was very old she made him a friend of Jesus Christ, and after his death she lived a widow in all purity and constantly occupied in works of mercy.  Her son Augustine had fallen into the heresy of the Manichaeans, and for his conversion she earnestly pleaded with God for years, with strong crying and tears.  She followed Augustine to Milan, and tenderly and constantly besought him to confer with Ambrose the Bishop.  This he consented to do, and at last, through the public sermons and private conversations of Ambrose, his eyes were opened to see the truth of the Catholic Religion, and he received baptism at the Bishop's hands.

The mother and son set out to return to their home in Africa, but after they had reached Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber, she was stricken down with a fever.  One day as she lay sick, she came to herself after her mind had been long wandering, and said: Where am I?  Then she saw who were standing by, and said: Let you mother lie here: only, remember me at the altar of the Lord.  On the ninth day this blessed lady surrendered her spirit to God.  Her body was buried there at Ostia in the Church of St. Aurea, but, long after, in the Popedom of Martin V, it was carried to Rome and honourably buried again in the Church of St. Augustine.

Augustine added these words after describing his mother's death : We did not think that hers was a death which it was seemly to mark with repining, or tears, or lamentations, seeing that she died not sorrowfully, nor at all as touching her best and noblest part.  This we knew, because we knew what her life had been, her faith unfeigned, her sure and certain hope.  And then, nevertheless, I remembered again what thine handmaid was used to be, her walk with thee, how godly and holy it was, and with us so gentle and long-suffering ; and that it was all gone away from me now.  And I wept, over her and for her.  And if any man will make it blame to me that I wept for a little while, when I saw lying dead before mine eyes my mother, who had wept over me so many years, that she might see me live, I say, if any man will make it blame to me, I pray him not to sneer at me, but rather (if his charity be so great) himself to weep over my sins before thee, who art a Father to all them to whom thy Christ is a Brother."

-- From the 1911 Breviary of St Pius X

** Our brethren following the Traditional Liturgical Calendar observed St Monica's memorial on 4 May.
Painting Death of St Monica by Benozzo di Lese di Sandro Gozzoli

1 comment:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I knew the story of St. Monica but had never heard his words about her death. How humble those words are!