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A popularity contest between Monica and Augustine?

February 26, 2012

Victoria has been blogging about a popularity poll among famous historical Christian figures.  The popularity poll is structured after the NCAA Men’s Basketball “March Madness.”

The March 5th contest is between Augustine of Hippo and his mother, Monica.  (Actually the contest spells her name as “Monnica,” which has some archaeological evidence, but is terribly pretentious.)

As I commented at Victoria’s blog, that is just rude!  Really, having a man compete against his mother?  One thing is for sure, the author’s of this popularity contest must not be Italian.  What is one supposed to do – be chivalrous and vote for the fellow’s man, or be literary and vote for the son?

BLT co-blogger Suzanne sees Monica as the anti-feminist choice: 

Can’t say I have too much sympathy for Monica either. That’s the trouble when women need to live their lives vicariously through a man.

and Victoria agrees, calling her “the patron saint of helicopter parents.”

On a related note, see also my comments earlier today about Kate Stone Lombardi’s forthcoming book.  I wonder if she talks about the Monica-Augustine relationship.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    February 26, 2012 8:07 pm

    I understand that Monica sent the mother of Augustine’s son packing. Then the son died. I am sure she had her reasons.

  2. February 26, 2012 8:45 pm

    Well, Monica herself had some terrible mother-in-law problems.

    It wasn’t so much that Monica broke up the relationship between “Gusty” and his Carthaginian lover (the two were together for thirteen years, so it seems that there was some reason that they could not tie the knot) as it was incompatible with her plans to have “Gusty” marry with an eleven-year old with blue book credentials.

    Little Adeodatus did manage to co-write a book and lived five more years than the age of Gusty’s fiancée.

    But maybe she was just following the example of the most noble of society women — the infamous Aurelia-Pompeia relationship. Above suspicion and all that….

  3. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    February 26, 2012 9:01 pm

    She was a concubine, not a fiancée. Not eligible and a gift of Augustine’s father, so likely never a favourite of Monica.

  4. February 26, 2012 9:28 pm

    You are confused between the Carthaginian lover (who was old enough to bear Adeodatus) and the eleven year old Milanese fiancée his mother selected. There was a second concubine during the two years while Gusty waited for his fiancée to reach puberty, and finally he broke off the engagement due to his frustration.

  5. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    February 26, 2012 10:03 pm

    Possibly. It is hard to keep unnamed women sorted out.

  6. February 27, 2012 12:09 am

    …a popularity poll among famous historical Christian figures.

    And some less famous ones, too!

  7. February 27, 2012 3:11 pm

    I think Augustine would take a knee for his mom. The final sections of Book 4 of his Confessions are quite beautiful and some of the most tender words ever uttered about a man’s mother:
    33. And then little by little did I bring back my former thoughts of Your handmaid, her devout conversation towards You, her holy tenderness and attentiveness towards us, which was suddenly taken away from me; and it was pleasant to me to weep in Your sight, for her and for me, concerning her and concerning myself. And I set free the tears which before I repressed, that they might flow at their will, spreading them beneath my heart; and it rested in them, for Your ears were near me—not those of man, who would have put a scornful interpretation on my weeping. But now in writing I confess it unto You, O Lord! Read it who will, and interpret how he will; and if he finds me to have sinned in weeping for my mother during so small a part of an hour—that mother who was for a while dead to my eyes, who had for many years wept for me, that I might live in Your eyes—let him not laugh at me, but rather, if he be a man of a noble charity, let him weep for my sins against You, the Father of all the brethren of Your Christ.

  8. February 27, 2012 6:25 pm

    Timothy — you are certainly correct that Augustine held Monica in highest esteem. Thanks for the beautiful quotation.


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