One of the oldest traditions of the Principality of Monaco will be taking place on Friday 26 January and Saturday 27 January in honour of Sainte-Dévote, patron Saint of Monaco. The traditional celebrations have permeated the Principality’s culture and can be seen all over local folklore, arts and history.
Legend of Saint Devote
The Legend of Saint Devote, described in a medieval document, holds a privileged place in the hearts of Monegasques and has been acknowledged throughout the centuries in Monaco. 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 can be placed in 303 or 304. Her body was stolen the following night by a group of faithful people and was put in a boat, brought to Monaco and buried in a chapel in the valley known as “des Gaumates” near the port, on 27 January.
150th anniversary of the boat burning tradition…
Under Honoré II, in the 17th century, Saint Devote became the patron of Monaco. 150 years ago, in 1874, a tradition began: a boat being burned in the presence of the Sovereign and the Princely Family, accompanied by Monegasque personalities.
This year, the celebrations will be marked by the presence of representatives from three municipalities twinned with Monaco: Lucciana, Dolceacqua (Italy) and Ostend (Belgium).
On 27 January, the Feast Day, a pontifical mass is celebrated in the Cathedral by a religious figure invited by the Archbishop of Monaco. The Princely Family, the Princely Government, the elected assemblies and the corporate bodies attend the ceremony. After the ceremony, a procession with the participation of the Penitents of the Archconfraternity of Mercy heads towards the Prince’s Palace with a shrine containing relics, escorted by the Prince’s Carabinieri.
The procession stops on Place du Palais, where the Guard of Honour and the Prince’s Carabinieri Orchestra pay tribute to the saint. A celebrant then blesses the Princely Family with the relics. The procession then heads towards the ramparts, where another celebrant blesses Monaco and its population. Finally, back in front of the cathedral, a last celebrant blesses the sea and the fishermen.
Full schedule of events
Friday 26 January 2024
10:30 am: Sainte-Dévote Church: traditional mass, in the Monegasque language followed by the Blessing of the Sea.
6:30 pm: Grand Prix chicane: procession of the relics of Saint Devote.
6:40 pm: Arrival of the boat in the Vallon des Gaumates, followed by the blessing of the relics. Continuation of the procession to Place Sainte-Dévote.
7:00 pm: Sainte-Dévote Church: Salvation of the Most Holy Sacrament, chaired by Mgr Dominique-Marie David, Archbishop of Monaco in the presence of Cardinal François-Xavier Bustillo, Bishop of Ajaccio.
7:45 pm: Quai Albert I: Burning of the boat by the Princely Family.
8:15 pm: Fireworks
Saturday 27 January 2024
10 am: Monaco Cathedral: pontifical mass, chaired by Cardinal François-Xavier Bustillo, Bishop of Ajaccio. At the end, the procession of the relics takes place on the Rock.
6 pm: Monaco Cathedral: candlelit concert of “Tenebrae choir” with the children’s choir of the Rainier III Academy.