On many occasions Pope Francis has recalled his special bond with St. Monica. This devotion originates, as the Pontiff himself has stated, from a feeling inherited from his mother, a member of a group of Christian mothers, who venerated our saint, taking her as a model of life
Thus, when as bishop and cardinal, Francis was in Rome for ministerial commitments, he would visit Monica's tomb, kept in the Basilica of Sant'Agostino in Campo Marzio, to ask her intercession for families in difficulty.
He also did this in the days leading up to the Conclave of March 2013, which resulted in his election as Roman Pontiff. Perhaps also as a sign of gratitude and entrustment to the saint, after that date, he accepted the invitation of the Prior General to preside at the Eucharistic Celebration of the Solemnity of St. Augustine on August 28, 2013, in that same Basilica, to launch the CLXXXIV General Chapter of the Order. On that occasion too, Pope Francis paused in prayer before the remains of the saint, lighting the lamp that burns in front of her tomb.
On two occasions in recent years, Francis made a private visit to Monica on the day of her liturgical memorial, 27 August.
"My God has amply satisfied me"
In 2022, to coincide with that date, the Consistory was scheduled and therefore there would be no occasion to schedule a visit to the Basilica. The friars of the Convent of St Augustine, in Rome, therefore thought of sending Pope Francis a sign of St Monica's closeness. Thanks to the collaboration of the talented Spanish artist Manuel Peña Suárez, they were given the opportunity to create a painting on wood, depicting Monica absorbed in ecstasy by the Ostia Lido. Decorating the image are the coats of arms of the Roman Pontiff and the Order of St. Augustine.
Pope Francis, at the end of the General Audience of 30 November, receiving the painting from a group of Augustinian friars and from the artist himself, expressed his gratitude for this gift, confirming his devotion to the saint. At the moment of handing over the picture, he recalled Monica's words, uttered at the twilight of her earthly life, "Cumulatius hoc mihi Deus praestitit!" (My God has amply satisfied me), expressions in which the meaning of an existence lived in prayer, trust and gratitude to God is translated. Pope Francis, in reiterating this proposition, delivered the admonition also to the Augustinians, so that they too, like Monica, may know how to praise God for the astonishing wonders He works.