This tradition, celebrated on January 26th and January 27th each year results from the legend known as the “Legend of Saint Devote” transmitted by a medieval document. It holds a privileged place in the heart of Monegasques.
According to this legend, Devota (Devotee), a young Christian native of Corsica, was martyred by the prefect Barbarus under the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian. Her body was allegedly stolen by the faithful during the night following her martyrdom and put in a boat, to be buried in North Africa (then Christian land). Contrary winds having pushed the boat, it was in Monaco that it was buried in the valley known as “des Gaumates”, on January 27 of the year 303 or 304.
Under Honoré II, in the XVIIth Century, Sainte Dévote became patron saint of Monaco.
A Tradition Followed Intently Since the 1870s
The tradition was established in the 1870s:each year, a boat on a stake was burned in the presence of the Sovereign, the Princely Family and many Monegasque personalities.
January 26th Burning of the Boat – then Celebrations Continue January 27th
On January 27, the feast day, a solemn mass is celebrated in the Cathedral by the Archbishop of Monaco. Attending this religious ceremony, the Princely Family, the Princely government, the elected assemblies and the constituted bodies as well as many faithful. Usually, at the end of the ceremony, a procession with the participation of the penitents of the Archconfraternity of Mercy takes the direction of the Prince’s Palace with the reliquary containing the relics escorted by the Prince’s Carabinieri.
The procession then stops at Place du Palais. A Guard of Honour and the Prince’s Carabinieri Orchestra pay homage to her. A celebrant then blesses the Princely Family with the relics. The procession then heads for the ramparts where another celebrant blesses the city and its people. Finally, back in front of the cathedral, a last celebrant blesses the sea and the fishermen.
This year, due to health measures linked to the COVID 19 crisis, this procession is replaced by a simple blessing on the cathedral square at the end of mass.
Find out more: www.saintedevotemonaco.com
Celebrations of the Holy Devote:
Tuesday January 26, 2021
10:30 am Sainte Dévote Church: traditional mass, in the Monegasque language. Blessing of the sea.
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5 p.m. Free entry for the public Quai Albert 1er (Seating places)
5.15 p.m. Departure of the boat and arrival in the Vallon des Gaumates. Flight of the Dove. Delivery of relics and blessing of the city (with the presence of the Prince’s Carabinieri). Arrival of the relics at the Sainte Dévote Church.
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5:30 p.m. Sainte Dévote Church: Hail of the Blessed Sacrament, chaired by His Exc. Mgr Dominique-Marie David, Archbishop of Monaco in the presence of HSH Prince Prince Albert II and the Princely Family.
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6:00 p.m. Quai Albert 1er Côté Nord: Burning of the Symbolic Barque by the Princely Family. At the end, due to sanitary measures, it will not be possible to harvest the traditional nails from the boat.
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Wednesday January 27, 2021
9.50 a.m. Cathedral: reception of the Relics by Members of the Clergy and the Venerable Archconfraternity of Mercy.
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10:00 a.m. Cathedral: Pontifical Mass presided over by H.E. Mgr Dominique-Marie David Archbishop of Monaco (Free entry within the limit of the 200 places that are available)
Entrance song: “Canticle to Saint Devote” – Mgr. Louis-Lazare Perruchot
Ordinary Short Mass in C Major – Richard R. Terry
Alleluia in D minor – Philippe Mazé
Credo III – Plain chant
Universal prayer “Lord hear the prayer that rises from our hearts”
Communion: Grand Organ
Song of communion: “Sing the Lord my soul” – John Goss / Jean-Paul Lécot
Prayer for HSH the Sovereign Prince
Solemn Pontifical Blessing
Masters of the Cathedral and Little Singers of Monaco
Management: Pierre Debat, Master of Chapel of the Prince’s Palace and of the Cathedral of Monaco
Grand-Orgue: Olivier Vernet, Holder
Choral organ: Jean-Cyrille Gandillet, Holder
11:15 am Parvis de la Cathédrale: Blessing of the sea and the city.