It is impossible to post a thread on this great saint without mentioning his mother, St. Monica, who prayed unceasingly for his 'conversion'. For all mothers who seek to bring their children to God!
Death of St. Monica
St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, was born, probably, at Thagaste in Numidia, where she married and lived the greater part of her life. She was of Berber stock and her name is Berber. Practically everything we know of her life comes from her son's writings, particularly Book IX of his Confessions. She was well, but rather strictly, brought up by the old nurse of the family, who, among other things, would never allow her to drink between meals. Perhaps in reaction from this she developed the habit of taking unauthorized drinks, which grew larger as time went on, when she was sent by her parents to draw wine from the barrel; but when one of the household slaves taunted her with being a drunkard she was ashamed and gave it up. She was married young to Patricius, a short-tempered, but by no means bad or unlikeable, man, with an old mother who was at first violently hostile to her. She managed both husband and mother-in-law excellently, so that the old lady was completely won over and St. Monica, unlike many of her married friends and neighbors whose husbands were supposed to be better tempered, never had any marks of ill treatment from her husband to show; her own account of the matter was that Patricius kept his hands off her because she kept his tongue off him.
Her relationship to her brilliant son was a miracle of perseverance and unwearying affection. She probably never fully understood his intellectual difficulties and vagaries, and was profoundly distressed by his Manichaeism. Augustine, on his side, during his Manichaean period, seems to have found his mother, with her uncompromising Catholicism, rather a nuisance: at any rate, when she decided to accompany him to Rome (Patricius had died some years before, leaving her free to devote herself to her son) he gave her the slip and went off without her. But she followed and caught him up in Milan, where she found to her joy that he was no longer a Manichee: from this time onward they were on the best of terms. She soon came to know St. Ambrose, who had the highest regard for her, and she for him. He even persuaded her to give up some of her North African pieties of which he disapproved or which were not in accordance with Milanese custom, such as holy picnics at the graves of the martyrs and fasting on Saturdays.
At last in 386 she had the supreme joy of seeing her son's conversion, which he himself attributed to her prayers and tears more than to any other human agency. She shared his retreat at Cassiciacum, and was present at his baptism by St. Ambrose. Then, in 387, she started back for Africa with St. Augustine and his friends. At Ostia she shared with her son that great exaltation of spirit of which he tells in the tenth chapter of Book IX of his Confessions: as they talked about the life of heaven, he says, they were raised in thought above all created things; they entered into their own minds and passed them, and came at last to touch directly, for a moment, the eternal Wisdom and Word of God. After this St. Monica said, 'My son, for my part, I have no more pleasure in anything in this life. I do not know what I am still to do and why I am here, now my hope in this world is finished. There was one thing because of which I wanted to stay a little while in this life, to see you a Catholic Christian before I died. God has given me this and much more, in letting me see you despise earthly happiness and devote yourself to his service. What am I doing here?" Soon after, she fell ill and died at Ostia, at the age of fifty-six.
She had always been very anxious to be buried with her husband, but now when she was asked if she would mind leaving her body so far from her native city, she answered, 'Nothing is far from God; and there is no fear that he will not know where to raise me up from at the end of the world.' And her last words to her son were, 'Lay this body anywhere; don't worry about that. I only ask you to remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be.' St. Augustine certainly never forgot her; nor will anyone who has read about her in his Confessions. She was buried in Ostia. Her body is supposed to have been translated to Rome in 1430, and to be now in the church of St. Agostino.
I highly recommend his City of God. I didn't read it cover to cover-- it's a big tome. Just pick it up and start thumbing the pages. There are lots of interesting bits. Really good stuff.