If there was ever anyone who needed to rely on the power of prayer for the sake of family, it was St. Monica.
Born in Tagaste in northern Africa (present-day Algeria) around 332, she was given away in marriage to a pagan, Patricius. They had three children, yet their marriage was difficult, as he regularly abused her and was unfaithful toward her. Yet St. Monica prayed for him every day, and he was baptized a Christian one year before his death in 371.
But the most famous story of St. Monica and the power of prayer is dedicated to her son, St. Augustine, who became one of the most influential figures in the Church. Though Augustine was intellectually gifted, his young life was wayward, spending much of his time living promiscuously (he had a child out of wedlock), stealing and partying with friends.
This kind of life would be distressing to any mother, and St. Monica refused to give up on her son. She prayed daily and intensely for Augustine, fasted often and begged God to help him return to faith. When Augustine traveled to Rome and Milan for his education, Monica followed him, continuing her prayers for him.
While in Milan, St. Monica met Ambrose, the local bishop who later became a saint. He offered her spiritual guidance and noticed the long hours she spent praying for him. He promised her, “Surely the son of so many tears will not perish.” He was right.
Bishop Ambrose and Augustine became friends and had discussions about Christianity. As a result, St. Augustine finally was baptized at the age of 32.
Content at having witnessing her husband and son come back to the faith, St. Monica certainly saw the fruits of her prayer. She died in 387 in Ostia Antica, Italy. Her feast day is celebrated Aug. 27.
Prayer to St. Monica, Patroness of Mothers
Blessed Monica, mother of St. Augustine,
we give thanks to our Father in heaven
Who looked with mercy upon your tears
over your wayward son.
His conversion and heroic sanctification
were the fruit of your prayers.
Dear St. Monica
we now ask you to pray with us
for all those sons and daughters that have wandered away from God,
and to add your prayers to those of all mothers
who are worried over their children.
Pray also for us that,
following your example, we may,
in the company of our children,
one day enjoy the eternal vision of our Father in heaven.
(Source: Catholic Doors Ministry)