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Saint Devote Traditional Celebrations

Celebrations for Sainte Devote, patron saint of Monaco, takes place on January 26 and 27. These celebrations are one of the oldest traditions in the Principality of Monaco, a tradition that has permeated the national culture in fields as diverse as religion, folklore, popular belief, history, literature, arts, painting, music, numismatics and philately.

The tradition, which has held a privileged place in the hearts of Monegasques for centuries, comes from the “Legend of Saint Devote” found in a medieval document. According to this legend, Devota (Devote), a young Christian native of Corsica was martyred by the prefect Barbarus under Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in the year 303 or 304. Her body, stolen the following night by faithful people, was put on a boat, brought to Monaco and buried in a chapel of the valley called “Gaumates” near the port, on the 27th of January of the same year.  Under Honoré II, in the XVII century, Sainte Devote became patroness of Monaco.

Monegasque renewed traditional euphoria for Santa Devota
Saint Devota’s traditional Symbolic Boat facing the Chapel in honour of the Patron Saint (Port Hercules, Saturday 26th January 2019).© Maurizio Abbati

Since 1874, the tradition has continued every year: a boat is burned in the presence of the Sovereign and the Princely Family, accompanied by Monegasque personalities. Once the boat is burned, there is a firework display at Port Hercule. On the 27th of January, 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 and members of the public attend this ceremony. After the ceremony, a procession with the participation of Penitents of the Archconfraternity of Mercy heads towards the Prince’s Palace with the shrine containing relics escorted by the Carabiniers du Prince.

Santa Devota Festival
Saint Devota’s procession within the old Monaco Ville (Sunday 27th January 2019).

The procession stops on the Place du Palais. An Honour Guard and the Carabinier du Prince Orchestra pay tribute to them. A celebrant then blesses the Princely Family and the relics. The procession then goes to the ramparts, another celebrant is blessed for Monaco and its population. Finally back in front of the cathedral, a last celebrant is blessed for the sea and the fishermen.

Santa Devota Festival
Monseigneur Bernard Barsi, Archbishop of Monaco, pronouncing the evocative “Blessing of the Sea” on the churchyard, just after the traditions mass (Port Hercules, Saturday 26th January 2019).© Maurizio Abbati

Saint Devote Celebrations Schedule

Sunday 26 January 2020

10.30 am Church of St. Devota: Mass of the Traditions, in Monegasque. 

6.40 pm Procession departs Route de la Piscine – Opposite Le Nautic restaurant

6.45 pm Arrival of the Boat Quai Jarland (Route de la Piscine) – Release of the dove7 Presentation of relics and blessing of the city (in the presence of the Palace Guards)

7 pm Church of St. Devota: Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, presided over by His Grace Bernard Barsi, Archbishop of Monaco, in the presence of H.S.H. Prince Albert II and the Royal Family

7.30 pm Forecourt of the Church of St. Devota: Burning of the Symbolic Boat by the Royal Family

Afterwards, from Quai Rainier III: Musical Fireworks Display presented by Flash Art Monaco Entertainment.

7:30 pm Parvis of the Saint Devote church: Lighting of the Symbolic Boat by the Princely Family

Afterwards, from Quai Rainier III: Fireworks presented by the “Flash Art Monaco Entertainment” company.

Santa Devota Festival
Saint Devota’s relics entering Monaco Cathedral (Sunday 27th January 2019).© Maurizio Abbati

Monday 27 January 2020

9.50 am Cathedral: Welcoming of the Relics by Members of the Clergy and the Venerable Brotherhood of Mercy

10 am Cathedral: Pontifical Mass presided over by Archbishop of Monaco Musical Programme.  

11.15 am Monaco-Ville: Solemn Procession of the Relics led by His Grace Bernard Barsi and with the participation of: members of the Clergy, the Cathedral Choir and Penitents of the Venerable Brotherhood of Mercy a delegation from Lucciana Municipal Council and the Musique Municipal orchestra. Route: Depart from the Cathedral Forecourt, Rue Colonel Bellando de Castro, Place du Palais: Blessing of the Sovereign House, From the Ramparts: Blessing of the City, Return to the Cathedral via Rue Colonel Bellando de Castro. 

Mgr Barsi will bid his farewell and will give thanks for the blessings received from God during his episcopacy. Following the mass and procession, a reception will be held in the Conference Room at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.

4 pm Church of St. Devota: Organ Concert

Santa Devota Festival
Orderly procession following Saint Devota’s holy relics at Rampe Major (Sunday 27th January 2019).© Maurizio Abbati

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