Most information about St Monica comes from the writings of her son, St Augustine. He was the eldest of the three children she had with her husband Patricius.
The family lived in Tagaste, North Africa, and family life could not have been easy, because by all reports, Patricius was a violent and bad tempered man. He died in 371 when Monica was just 40 and Augustine was a difficult 18 year-old.
Rejecting the family's Christian faith, he was an endless source of worry to his mother, leading a wild life, dabbling in many philosophies and ending up with a mistress and a child.
Monica was patient and loving. She welcomed her grandchild and prayed that Augustine would one day find his faith. St Augustine wrote: "She shed more tears for my spiritual life than other mothers shed for the bodily death of a son."
In 383, Augustine set out for Italy. Monica followed him. In Milan, she became a disciple of St Ambrose and Augustine began to join her and listen to Ambrose's teaching. Gradually, he was won over. St Ambrose admired Monica and often told Augustine what a wonderful mother he had. St Augustine wrote: "Little did he know what a dissolute son I was."
After Augustine's conversion, St Monica enjoyed four peaceful happy years. She died at the age of 55 in Ostia. There was no early cult to her. This seems to have developed after 1163 when her relics were moved to Arrouaise.
St Monica is a patron of parents of dissappointing children, abuse victims and women in difficult marriages.