Sainte Dévote, the treasured patron saint of the Principality of Monaco, was honoured over the weekend with two days of special events that included well-attended religious masses commemorating her Christian legacy and the ever-popular burning of the boat ceremony.
Monaco began its Sainte Dévote celebrations at 10.30am on Friday 26th January with a traditional mass conducted in the Monegasque language at the Eglise Sainte Dévote.
Then, as evening drew in and the crowds started to gather on the square in front of the church, a replica of the boat that is said to have brought the body of Sainte Dévote to Monaco’s shores from Corsica arrived at the Vallon des Gaumates, where the holy relics of the young saint were blessed.
This act signified the start of the procession towards Place Sainte Dévote, where the Archbishop of Monaco, Dominique-Marie David, oversaw the Salvation of the Most Holy Sacrament in the presence of Cardinal François-Xavier Bustillo, the Bishop of Ajaccio, as well as the Princely family.
The burning of the boat
The day’s focal event would soon follow, unfolding on Quai Albert Ier as a keen crowd of spectators watched on.
Here, Prince Albert, Princess Charlene and their nine-year-old children, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, took centre stage as they brandished the torches that set alight the symbolic boat that played such an important role in the story of Sainte Dévote’s martyrdom and journey to the Principality.
The evening concluded with a vibrant pyro-melodic fireworks display, adding a celebratory note to the day’s solemn proceedings.
Music and mass at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée
The second day dedicated to honouring Saint Dévote saw Saturday 27th January blend the spiritual with the cultural in a series of events within the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée.
The day’s observances commenced with a traditional mass presided over by Cardinal François-Xavier Bustillo, which was reverently attended by Monaco’s most high-profile residents, including Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene.
To the delight of the many gathered outside the cathedral, the Princely couple paused for a few minutes on the steps to smile and wave for the cameras before heading inside.
Later, a procession of Sainte Dévote’s relics departed the cathedral for the Palais Princier de Monaco, where Prince Albert and Princess Charlene made another public appearance on the balcony. Watching on as the procession passed through the Place du Palais, the pair were sure to greet the crowds who had made the trip up to the iconic square for the special occasion.
The annual event was brought to a serene close that evening, again at the cathedral, as London’s Tenebrae Choir joined the students of the Académie Rainier III for a touching candlelit concert that beautifully matched the two days of celebrations and commemorations.
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Photo credit: Eric Mathon / Palais Princier de Monaco