The celebration of Saint Dévote corresponds to one of the oldest traditions of the Principality of Monaco. Celebrations take place every year on 26 and 27 January.
This tradition is a big part of Monaco’s national culture. It features in many aspects of it, such as: religion, folklore, popular beliefs, history, literature, art, painting, music, numismatics and philately. It comes from the “Legend of Saint Dévote” passed down through a medieval document. Legend has it that (Dévote), a young Christian native of Corsica was martyred by the prefect Barbarus under the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian at a time somewhere between the yearsd 303 and 304. Her body, stolen during the following night by religious believers, was put in a boat, transported to Monaco and buried in a chapel in the valley known as “des Gaumates”, near the port, on 27 January of the same year.
Thus, under Honoré II, in the 17th Century, Sainte Dévote became patron saint of Monaco. Moreover, as a protective soul, she is present in all the churches of the Principality. Since 1874, tradition has dictated that every year on 26 January, in the evening: a boat is burnt at the stake in the presence of the Sovereign and the Princely family, as well as those living in the Principality. Afterwards, there is a fireworks display from Port Hercules. Then, on the morning of 27 January, a pontifical mass was celebrated in the Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate by Monsignor the Archbishop of Monaco, in the presence of the Sovereign Prince. It is followed by a solemn procession on the Rock or, in other words, a blessing from the Palace, the City and the Sea.