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Saint Devote Traditional Celebrations

Celebrations for Sainte Devote, patron saint of Monaco, take 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

January 26, 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

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

January 27, 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 childrens choir of the Rainier III Academy.

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

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