Sainte Dévote: When, where and how to get involved with the boat burning ceremony  

This weekend, the Principality will celebrate its patron saint, Sainte Dévote, and one of the highlights of the celebrations will be the symbolic burning of the boat ceremony. Here are all the details you need to know about this legendary event.  

Every year in late January, the Principality honours the martyr who became Monaco’s patron saint with a series of special religious and cultural events. The burning of the boat part of the festivities, a perennial favourite with the crowds, commemorates the arrival on the shores of Monaco of the body of Sainte Dévote, a young girl from Corsica who was persecuted for her ardent Christian faith in the fourth century.

This year, the festivities will begin with a traditional mass in Monegasque at the church that bears her name at 10.30am on Friday 26th January. Then, later that same day, a procession of her relics will commence at the Grand Prix Chicane at 6.30pm and conclude with the Salvation of the Most Holy Sacrament on the square in front of the Eglise Sainte Dévote.

The procession of the relics will begin at 6.30pm ahead of a special service on the Place Sainte Dévote. Photo credit: Monaco Communications Department / Manuel Vitali

A special service at 7pm will then be led by Monaco’s Archbishop Dominique-Marie David and Cardinal François-Xavier Bustillo of Ajaccio before the crowd assembled is directed underground via the Rue Grimaldi and Avenue d’Ostende access points to the Quai Albert Ier, where the boat will be waiting. 

Only those who have attended the ceremony on the Place Sainte Dévote will be able to witness the burning of the boat event up close given the strict security measures put in place in and around Port Hercule so be sure to be in the area before the service at the church begins.  

See more: Main roads to be closed during Sainte Dévote festivities on Friday 26th January

The burning of the boat, which is traditionally set alight by a member of the Princely Family, is scheduled to take place at 7.45pm. 

In 2023, Princess Charlene, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella took charge of the burning of the boat ceremony in Port Hercule. Photo credit: Monaco Communications Department / Manuel Vitali

It is entirely free to attend and is a wonderful way to get involved with a piece of treasured Monegasque heritage and history.  

For those who can’t make the service on the Place Sainte Dévote, a lightshow that can be viewed from all around the Port Hercule will be held from 8.15pm.

To read more about the schedule of events, which will continue into Saturday 27th January, click here. 

Read related:

How to celebrate Sainte Dévote 2024: a detailed schedule of events


Photo credits: Monaco Communications Department / Manuel Vitali