In honour of Monaco’s Feast of Saint Devota, happening 26-27 January 2020, we’ve scoped out some fascinating facts around the Principality’s beloved paragon of virtue.
Saint Devota officially became a Patron Saint during the 17th century, during the reign of the Honoré II. During the reign of Docletian and Maximian, Roman prefect Barbarus landed in Corsica with a fleet of ships. A devote servant to the Lord, Devota was a servant of the imperial Roman senator, Eutychius. When prefect heard that the senator was harbouring a Christian, he demanded that she be sacrified to the Roman gods. Torchured and killed for faith, the virgin martyr was killed for her faith in 303 AD.
She not only is the Patron Saint of Monaco, but also Corsica. The French island happens to be her birth country. She grew up in a village known as Querci, which is in the present day town of Lucciana, located near the ancient Roman site of Mariana. While much as changed since the days of Devota’s youth, her birth town has paid tribute to her with an oratory in her name that still stands today.
A chapel was build on her grave and still stands today. Built along the wall of Vallon des Gaumates around 1070 is the Saint Devota Chapel. There is a long-standing tradition that when the Sovereign Price of Monaco marries, his bride lays her bridal bouquet at the chapel steps following the conclusion of the wedding ceremony. Princess Charlene was the last royal to leave her blossoms.
Her spirit animal is the dove. After Devota’s death, her was stolen by Christians after her body was ordered to burn. Travelling to Africa via boat for a proper burial, a sudden storm had taken the Christain’s ship by surprise when a dove appeared and safely guided the vessel to Les Gametes, or modern day Monaco.
Her image has graced the surfaces of coins and postage stamps (twice!). In 2004, on the 1,700th anniversary of Devota’s death, a €5 commemorative coin was minted in her honour. The silver piece featured a dove guiding a maiden on a boat. Then in 1944 and again in 1992, a series of postage stamps bearing her effigy was issued.
She has her very own corner on the famous Circuit de Monaco, where the most famous motor race in the world is held. Situated at the very first turn of the Grand Prix track is none other than the location of the Patron Saint’s chapel. The celebrated sanctuary is often missed during the races, as the beautiful creme structure is usually covered by crash barriers and signage.
Learn more about the festivities set for the Feast of Saint Devota from 26-27 January.