Events to celebrate St. Devota, patron saint of Monaco, will take place on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 January.
These celebrations are among the Principality of Monaco’s oldest traditions, and have permeated the national culture in areas as diverse as religion, folklore, popular beliefs, history, literature, the arts, painting, music, coins and stamps.
The tradition derives from the so-called “Legend of St. Devota” passed down through a medieval document. It holds a special place in the heart of Monegasques.
According to the legend, Devota, a young Christian woman from Corsica, was martyred by the prefect Barbarus under Emperors Diocletian and Maximian. Her body, believed to have been removed the following night by believers, was placed in a boat to be taken to North Africa (then a Christian land) for burial. However, the boat was knocked off course by headwinds and Devota was instead buried in Monaco, in the valley of the “Gaumates”, on 27 January in the year 303 or 304.
In the seventeenth century, under Honoré II, St. Devota became the patron saint of Monaco.
According to a tradition established in the 1870s, every year a boat is burned on a pyre in the presence of the Sovereign, the Royal Family and numerous high-profile figures from Monaco.
On 27 January, the day of the festival, a solemn mass is celebrated in the Cathedral by the Archbishop of Monaco. This religious ceremony is attended by the Royal Family, the Prince’s Government, the elected assemblies and constitutional bodies, and many of the faithful. After the ceremony, a procession involving Penitents of the Brotherhood of Mercy normally heads towards the Prince’s Palace with the shrine containing the relics, escorted by the Palace Guards.
The procession then comes to a halt on Place du Palais. A guard of honour and the orchestra of the Palace Guards greet the procession and an officiant blesses the Royal Family with the relics. The procession then makes its way to the ramparts where another officiant blesses the city and its people. Finally, it returns to the front of the Cathedral where a third officiant blesses the sea and fishermen. This year, due to the health measures in place to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, the procession will be replaced by a simple blessing on the Cathedral square following the mass.
For more information, see: www.saintedevotemonaco.com
Saint Devota celebrations:
TUESDAY 26 JANUARY 2021
10.30 am Church of St. Devota: Mass of the Traditions, in Monegasque.
Blessing of the Sea
* * *
5 pm Free public entry to Quai Albert I
5.15 pm Departure of Boat and Arrival in Vallon des Gaumates
Release of the Dove
Presentation of Relics and Blessing of the City
(in the presence of the Palace Guards)
Arrival of Relics at the Church of St. Devota
* * *
5.30 pm Church of St. Devota: Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament,
presided over by His Grace Dominique-Marie David, Archbishop of Monaco in the presence of H.S.H. Prince Albert II and the Royal Family
* * *
6 pm Quai Albert I (north side):
Burning of the Symbolic Boat by the Royal Family
(Due to the health measures in place, it will not be possible to recover the nails of the boat afterwards, as is customary)
* * *
WEDNESDAY 27 JANUARY 2021
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
His Grace Dominique-Marie David, Archbishop of Monaco
(Admission is free up to a capacity of 200)
Entrance to Great Organ
Opening hymn: Cantique à Sainte Dévote (Canticle for St. Devota) – Monsignor Louis-Lazare Perruchot
Short Ordinary of the Mass in C Major – Richard R. Terry
Alleluia in D Minor – Philippe Mazé
Credo III - Plainsong
Universal prayer: Seigneur entend la prière qui monte de nos cœurs (Lord, Hear the Prayer in Our Hearts)
Offertory: Great Organ
Communion: Great Organ
Communion hymn: Chante le Seigneur mon âme (My Soul Sings the Saviour) – John Goss / Jean-Paul Lécot
Prayer for H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince
Solemn Pontifical Blessing
Exit to Great Organ
Cathedral Choir and Little Singers of Monaco
Conductor: Pierre Debat,
Chapel Master for the Prince’s Palace and Monaco Cathedral
Great Organ: Olivier Vernet, Resident Organist
Choir Organ: Jean-Cyrille Gandillet, Resident Organist
11.15 am Cathedral square: Blessing of the Sea and the City