While I sift through my huge stack of letters from all of you good folks, I want to wish you a Happy All Saints Day!
There are so many Saints to celebrate – like St. Isidore of Seville, the patron saint of the internet and computer users!
This year I am singling out Fenwick’s and my favorite saint – Saint Monica. She is the patron saint of alcoholics, and was the mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo, who has a grass AND an African animal named after him!
Monica was stuck at an early age, married off to a grumpy pagan named Patricius, who had a vigorous adultery and porn habit. Having nothing better to do, as women’s liberation was centuries in the future, Monica spent her days praying for her husband’s soul, as well as the soul of her son, Augustine, who started off on the same path as his daddy, though reformed later on to be sainted himself.
Patricius finally succumbed to Monica’s prayers and exhortations against his evil ways, and converted to Christianity. Plus, my guess is that he was also really, really tired from all the carousing and probably carting around a belly full of STDs. He died shortly after converting (supporting my STD theory).
Augustine partied like his father and became, for a while, a Manichean (an ancient Persian gnostic sect who believed that the basis of the world’s operating software was that good and evil spend all their time arm wrestling).
Monica, who had been an alcoholic herself before reforming, took to stalking Augustine. Apparently her other two kids, Navigius and Perpetua, didn’t mind. She got permission for this from an anonymous bishop in Rome who said “the child of those tears shall never perish.” (in case you were wondering who it was that said that). I’m wondering why the bishop remained anonymous. I’m imagining one of those blissfully romantic, unconsummated love affairs. Anyway, Monica was worried that Augustine would end up like his dad, and I suspect she also wanted to travel and see the world, finally free of Patricius’ mean spirited thumb.
Augustine was a tough cookie. It took seventeen years of wearing the child down before he finally converted to Christianity.
During her travels, Monica met another saint of the time, Ambrose, who got her off the sauce for good. She had a practice of offering porridge, bread and wine in memory of the saints. Ambrose gave her an intervention and said “nuh, uh, hon. No more of that,” (paraphrased). She and Ambrose finally saw Augustine’s turn to the light side of the force and danced for joy, though probably not together.
Monica and Augustine set off for Africa, where Monica passed away. Augustine was very sad and wrote his “Confessions” as an expression of his grief.
I wonder whatever happened to the other two kids, Navigius and Perpetua. I hope they had happy lives. Sometimes it’s tough being the progeny and sibling of rock stars, and back in those days, saints were the rock stars. It sounds like Saint Monica was a good mom, and I would imagine her other two kids turned out just fine.
Anyway, our left coast city of Santa Monica is named for St. Monica. There is a St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica, which is as it should be. And they have a high school too! As well as a really nice beach and pier, where, I’m sure, alcohol is served. Oh well.
Happy All Saints Day, hon. Pour out a glass of wine into your sink in honor of St. Monica!