The annual Sainte Dévote festivities, in honour of the principality’s patron saint, are taking place today and tomorrow. The highlight of the event can be discovered tonight in front of the Eglise Sainte Dévote as resident set alight a wooden boat against the backdrop of Monaco’s famous Port Hercule.
The legend of Saint Devota is one of the principality’s oldest traditions. The story says that she was born in Corsica in the first century AD and, as a young girl, decided to devote herself to God (the Latin Deo devota translates to ‘devoted to God’). During the Diocletian persecution, the prefect for the area demanded that the Christian Saint Devota be given up. She was imprisoned, tortured and martyred for her faith in her birthplace of Mariana. It was ordered that her body be burnt, but fellow Christians saved her corpse from this fate and placed her in a boat headed for Africa. A storm blew up during the crossing and a dove appeared from her body to guide the captain and his crew to what is now the Principality of Monaco.
A chapel was built in her honour and it remains standing today as one of the most recognisable religious buildings in Monaco. Tradition also holds that flowers in the nation bloom early on her feast day of 27th January.
Programme of events
Thursday 26th January
6.15pm: Start of celebrations on Port Hercule
6.30pm: Arrival of the boat
7pm: Celebrations at the Sainte Dévote church
Friday 27th January
10am: Mass at the Cathedral of Monaco
11.15pm: Presentation parade through Monaco
4pm: Organ concert in the Sainte Dévote church