Keeping up with ancestral traditions
The Feast of Saint Devote patron of Monaco and Corsica, observed annually on January 27, is one of the oldest traditions in the Principality. As it is customary the two-day celebration started on Friday, January 26, 2018 with the annual burning of the votive boat outside the Church of Saint Devote, symbolizing the arrival of the saint, in the presence of Prince Albert, Princess Charlene, twins Hereditary Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella who had turned 3 years old in December. Beautiful and elegant Princess Charlene had celebrated her 40th birthday just the day before, on Thursday, January 25, at an intimate family gathering.
Since 1874, the tradition has been observed every year, with the burning of a boat in the presence of the Princely Family, followed by fireworks display at Port Hercule. A Solemn mass is celebrated in the Cathedral led by Archbishop Bernard Barsi of Monaco. After the ceremony a procession heads towards the Palace with the shrine containing relics escorted by the Carabiniers du Prince. Then continues to the ramparts, blessing Monaco and its population, back in front of the Cathedral sea and fishermen are also blessed.
As the legend goes, in the 4th century (c.303) under Emperor Diocletian, the Corsican born Devota (later becoming St. Devote) who was a young virgin was arrested and killed for her Christian faith. Corsican villagers recovered her body, setting it adrift on a boat. It is believed the boat was lead north in a storm arriving on the coast of Monaco, and the body was buried in a chapel of the valley called Gaumates near the port, on Saturday, January 27. It was under Honore II, in the XVII century that Sainte Devote became patron of Monaco. In her honor the chapel of St. Devote was built. Traditionally, flowers are said to bloom before their season on January 27, the saint’s feast day.
“It takes an endless amount of history to make even a little tradition.” Henry James