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Santa Monica and Saint Monica

Statue of St. Monica in Santa Monica’s Palisades Park

Statue of St. Monica in Santa Monica’s Palisades Park

I’ve walked past this statue hundreds of times in the last half century. I always wound up shaking my head because St. Monica is made to look so Nordic. It’s like all those blonde blue-eyed Jesuses favored by Evangelicals. Protestant America doesn’t like to admit that, in certain countries surrounding the Mediterranean, people come with dark hair, brown eyes, and various skin shades of a darker hue.

Saint Augustine was born in present day Algeria, where, presumably, his mother Saint Monica, lived. Here is a painting of Saint Monica by artist John Nava which more closely corresponds to how she may have looked:

Painting of St. Monica by John Nava

Painting of St. Monica by John Nava

This painting is from a Saint Monica’s Church in Trenton, New Jersey. Too bad the people in Santa Monica are afraid of ’fessing up that their eponymous saint could be … shudder! … colored. And also likely to be banned from the local country club.