As January comes to an end, Monaco’s Princely Family have attended the celebrations for Sainte Dévote, the patron saint of Monaco.
Prince Albert, Princess Charlene, Hereditary Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella attended an evening ceremony on 26 January which involved setting fire to the Sainte-Dévote boat.Embed from Getty Images
This officially begins the commemorations of this saint, with her relics brought to the boat, which was set up at the Quai Albert Ier on Port Hercule and blessed. The boat was then lit by the Princely Family. Hereditary Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella carried the torches to the boat and helped light it.Embed from Getty Images
The next day, 27 January, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene attended a mass at the Cathedral of Monaco.
The Prince’s Palace noted that, “This year, given the health situation, a small number of faithful attended religious services with respect for physical distancing and the boat, usually placed in the square of the Sainte Dévote church, was set ablaze from the Quai Albert Ier.”
Sainte Dévote was a young Corsican woman who was likely born around 283 AD who devoted herself to God. She was killed during a period of religious persecution by Emperors Diocletian and Maximian around 303 AD.
Dévote lived at the house of a senator, Eutychius, who was ordered to surrender her when it was discovered that he’d been housing a Christian. When he refused, he was poisoned, and Dévote was tortured to death for her religious beliefs. Her body was ordered burnt, but a group of Christians saved her body and placed it in a boat bound for the African continent where they believed she would get a proper Christian burial.
However, following a storm at sea, a dove led the fishermen to Les Gaumates, which is located in what is now Monaco, and a chapel (Sainte-Dévote Chapel) was built in her honour. The Chapel was first mentioned in writing around 1070, though its original construction date is uncertain.
Dévote has been a source of inspiration in Monaco for centuries, and her life has inspired artwork, culture, religion, history, stamps, and even coins. During the reign of Honoré II in the 1600s, Dévote became the patron saint of Monaco.