St Monica – Mother of St Augustine

Monica is perhaps better known as the mother of St Augustine, who is a Doctor of the Universal Church, and who is arguably one of the greatest theologians and teachers that the Church has produced. An investigation into the life of Monica cannot be separated then from the works of her son, for what we know of Monica is generally what is recorded in the Confessions of Augustine which are described by Fink (2000:128) as Augustine’s “spiritual autobiography”. As referenced in the above paragraph, Augustine’s work was written about c 400 which was approximately ten to fourteen years after the death of Monica. According to Gillian Clark (2015:3) Augustine’s writings, “are the only source for her life” and so what we know about the faith journey of Monica is to be found in the writings of her son. Therefore, to obtain some idea of this woman, who was a daughter, wife, mother and saint, it is important to read the Confessions of Augustine which Elizabeth Clark (1983:246) maintains were also Augustine’s “prayer to God”. Clark tells us that we know this because Augustine addresses God as “You” in the texts (ibid.). She posits that the last section of Book 9 of the Confessions, “is Augustine’s tribute to his mother.” Apparently, the passage highlights “the emotional bond that linked mother and son” (ibid.).