This Friday everything will come to a stop in Monaco for La Messe des Traditions, a service celebrated in the local dialect in the chapel of Sainte Dévote.
As well as the religious service, there will also be a torchlight procession in the town. A symbolic boat will be set alight by the Sovereign Prince and his Royal family, and a white dove will be released into the air, all in honour of the beloved patron saint of the Principality, Sainte Dévote.
The feast of Sainte Dévote remains without doubt one of Monaco’s most important events, and a beautiful tribute to a 19 year old girl from Corsica who was tortured and martyred because she refused to denounce her Christian faith.
Following her death, the governor of the province asked that her body be burned, but her fellow Christians managed to rescue her remains from the flames and placed them on a small boat bound for Africa, where they believed the young virgin would receive a proper burial. However, during the journey across the Mediterranean, a storm engulfed the boat and threatened to capsize it, but, according to legend, a dove flew from the mouth of the deceased to guide the barque to the nearby Monegasque shores. Her body was later found by fishermen and a chapel, the Sainte Dévote chapel, was built on the site of the girl’s tomb.
Over the centuries, Sainte Dévote, whom the Monegasques call Devota, has been credited with many miracles, including ending a plague that broke out in the Principality in 1631. It is said that the nails of the symbolic boats that are burnt every year on the 27th of January bring happiness, so don’t be too surprised if you see kids rushing to collect them from the ashes at the end of the celebrations!
Chapel of Sainte Dévote
1, rue Sainte Dévote
Lead image via BB on foursquare; photo of Chapelle de Sainte Dévote © RIVIERA BUZZ