Why Saint Monica?

When I was preparing for confirmation I put a lot of thought into who I wanted to choose as a patron saint to guide me through the rest of my life.  My first thought was Mary.  She was the one who had brought me into the Church after all.  But something didn’t sit quite right with me for that choice.  She is supposed to be a mother to us all and there was something disquieting about the idea of co-opting her for my very own.

So the search began.  I had a list of criteria and while it wasn’t extensive there were a few key qualifications that made the position hard to fill:

  1. She had to be a woman.
  2. She had to be a wife and mother.
  3. She couldn’t be Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.  Nothing against her but she just didn’t feel right to me.
  4. She had to represent something that spoke to me and the future I was embarking upon.
One thing that you must remember is that I was pregnant with V at the time.  First-time motherhood was approaching quickly and at times it seemed like a train rushing at me through a tunnel.   I was scared and I knew my weaknesses.  I knew that patience (and worry but that’s another story perhaps more appropriate for Saint Dymphna) was an area that I needed a great deal of work in.

One night I was discussing my quandary with C, looking for some guidance from the resident cradle Catholic, when he brought up Saint Monica – the mother of Saint Augustine.  I knew nothing about her and my limited knowledge of him came from reading excerpts of On Christian Doctrine for a course on Milton in college.  There wasn’t a ton of information available on Monica but the little blurbs I could find spoke to me.  I had found my confirmation saint.

Monica filled my requirements and more.  While she may not be considered an intellectual, she was able to hold her own when speaking with Augustine, a doctor of the Church. I may not be an intellectual in the purest sense of the word but I do have those leanings.  She was able to guide her family to the Church despite many obstacles, particularly with Augustine and Patricius her husband.  I don’t face the same challenges she did but I feel that she can understand those that I do face and help guide me in the right direction.

In short, she seemed like a smart, strong woman of God with (literally) the patience and fortitude of a saint.  What’s not to love?  And her example does help guide me through the day-to-day trials and tribulations of mothering 3 young children and even being a working mom.


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