Rome: The Basilica of St. Augustine (the Relics of St. Monica)
The life of Saint Monica:
Saint Monica is one of the most admired saints. Married to a man who was a drunkard and abusive, she is an inspiration to many who pray for their wayward family members. Through her prayers and her patient example, she finally converted her husband from his pagan lifestyle to become a Christian.
One of their sons went on to become Saint Augustine of Hippo, but not before succumbing to the same worldly temptations as his father. Monicas’ prayers and pleading finally resulted in him converting. It is from his writings that we learn of the trials and tribulations that Saint Monica endured during her life. His tomb can be found in Pavia, Italy.
About the Church of Sant’ Agostino:
Saint Monica’s relics are preserved here in the Church, not far from Piazza Navona and aptly named after her son, Saint Augustine. Despite the rather plain exterior, the interior of the Church is magnificent, with several great works of art by artists such as Rafael and Carvaggio.
One of the features of the Church is in a niche by the entrance—the Madonna del Parto, (the Madonna of Safe Delivery) the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the child Jesus, carved by Jacopo Sansovino in 1521. This is considered one of his greatest works. In this case it shows the Blessed Mother holding the baby Jesus.
Many women offer their prayers here in hopes of ensuring a safe childbirth.
(This image has several variations: You will also find a fresco of Madonna del Parto in Monterci, Italy which shows a visibly pregnant Virgin Mary.)
Of course the tomb of Saint Monica is the main attraction here. Unfortunately, although she is such a popular saint, not many people are aware that her tomb is in this church. As a result, you normally do not have to worry about crowds. But we highly recommend that you include this church in your Rome travels.
Not just the tomb of Saint Monica, but even for those who do not share the devotion to Saint Monica, the interior offers a great opportunity for a break from the busy sights of Rome and view some magnificent works of art. The church has a beauty that will surprise you if you only judge it from the outside.
Finding the Church of Saint Augustine in Rome:
As mentioned above, it is a short walk from Piazza Navona. For help finding your way around, we suggest the “Little Black Book of Rome” It is organized by location rather than alphabetically like so many guide books. And we also suggest you carry a “Streetwise Map of Rome” for easy navigating.
We are not aware of any website for the Basilica.
The Church is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. until noon and again from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. There are daily Masses at 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and Sunday Masses at 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., noon, and 6:30 p.m.
Groups may be able to celebrate their own Mass here (or their priest can concelebrate). You will obviously need to have permission in advance.
Their phone number is 06 688 01 962.