The celebrations of Monaco’s patron saint, Sainte Devote, will take place on Friday, January 26, and Saturday, January 27.
As one of the oldest traditions of the Principality, the marking of the saint’s day has permeated Monaco’s national culture in fields as diverse as religion, folklore, popular beliefs, history, literature, arts, painting, music, numismatics and philately.
The legend of Saint Devote stems from a medieval document, and is a tradition holding a very special place in the heart of Monegasques and permanently attested to over the centuries in the history of the city.
According to the legend, Devota (Devote), a young Christian native of Corsica, was martyred by the prefect Barbarus under the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian on a date that could be 303 or 304. Her body, stolen the following night by the faithful, was put in a boat, brought to Monaco and buried in a chapel of the valley called “Gaumates”, near the port, on January 27 of the same year.
Under Honoré II, in the seventeenth century, Sainte Devote became patron saint of Monaco. The tradition has been celebrated every year since 1874: as the most significant part of the reeanactment, a small boat is burned in the presence of the Sovereign and the Princely Family, accompanied by Monegasque personalities. Once the boat is burned, a fireworks display is held at Port Hercule.
On January 27, the feast day, a solemn Mass is celebrated in the Cathedral by the Archbishop of the Diocese. The Princely Family, the Prince’s Government, the elected assemblies and the constituted bodies as well as many faithful attend this ceremony. A procession takes the direction of the Prince’s Palace with the shrine containing the relics escorted by the Carabiniers du Prince.
The procession stops on the Place du Palais, where an Honour Guard and the orchestra of the Carabiniers du Prince pay tribute. A celebrant then blesses the Princely Family with the relics. The procession proceeds to the ramparts, where another celebrant blesses Monaco and its population. Finally, back in front of the Cathedral, a last celebrant blesses the sea and fishermen.