The celebration of Sainte Devote, Monaco’s Patron Saint, will be held next week, and again this year the Principality is taking adapted measures to ensure the health and safety of all who wish to participate.
Sainte Devote, the 4th century Christian martyr, is celebrated every year on 27th January in the Principality.
Legend states that Devota, who was born in Corsica, was imprisoned and tortured for her faith by the Romans and after crushing her jaw and dragging her body over rocks and brambles, she was eventually killed by either being racked or stoned to death.
After her death, she was placed on a boat that landed in Monaco, where she was duly buried in a plot near the chapel that now bears her name. Since her interment in Monaco, it is said that flowers bloom out of season to mark her 27th January burial.
In the 17th century, Honoré II declared Devote patroness of Monaco. In 1874, a more formalised tradition sprung up, securing her position with an annual celebration. The observance begins on the night of the 26thwith a boat being burned on a stake in front of the chapel with the Princely family in attendance. Fireworks then light up the sky of the port.
On the 27th, a mass is then held at the Cathedral followed by a procession, with the participation of penitents of the Archconfraternity of Mercy, heads for the Prince’s Palace with the shrine containing relics, and escorted by the Prince’s Carabinieri.
Once at the Place du Palais, an Honour Guard and the Prince’s Carabinieri orchestra pay homage to her. The Princely family is then blessed using the relics, then the procession heads to the ramparts where the entire populace is blessed and finally the fishermen and the sea are blessed, ending the ceremony involving the relics.
This is how a normal year would play out, but again this year, there is no such luxury of being normal. Despite that, the celebrations will go on, just in a muted way.
Version 2022 will see only authorised people taking part in the relic reception, the procession, and the blessing at Sainte Devote Chapel. The public will not be able to access Place Sainte Devote during the ceremony.
The boat burning will take place, but this year it will be on the Quai Albert I’s north side and there will be no fireworks display after.
From 5:30pm on the 26th, the Quai Albert I will be accessed only through the gallery and only a hundred people will be allowed in the seated public area in order to stay in compliance with health measures, though a giant screen will be set up to allow the greatest number of people possible the chance to witness the event.
One hour before the 5:30pm cut-off, the reception area will be open to the public from the pedestrian crossing located at the corner of Boulevard Albert Ier and Rue Princesse Antoinette.
For reasons of public health, people will not be allowed to recover nails from the boat, as is usual tradition.
The train access near Sainte Devote will be closed from 5:30pm to pedestrian traffic, as well. To access the station, from or towards rue Grimaldi, the public is being asked to take the Galerie Sainte-Dévote. Additionally, the Sainte Dévote stairs will be closed from 5:30pm.
From 5:30pm to 7pm, the swimming pool road will be closed between Avenue JF Kennedy and the Jules Soccal wharf, and between 6:45pm and 7:45pm, occasional traffic cuts will be made on Boulevard Albert Ier and Avenue d’Ostende, to allow the event to run smoothly.
Slight delays will be expected in urban transport lines 1-2 and 6, and interurban transport lines 100 and 110, during the traffic cuts referred to above. With regard to public car parks, information will be given to users via posters affixed to the access terminals to the car parks.
Photo source: Government Communication Department