This evening, January 26, 2011, HSH Prince Albert II, Princess Caroline, and Miss Charlene Wittstock attended the celebration of the Festival of Sainte-Dévote, the patron saint of the Princely Family of Monaco, the Monégasques, and the Diocese of Monaco. Sainte-Dévote is also the patron saint of the island of Corsica.
Here is the story/legend of Sainte-Dévote:
Tradition holds that she was a Corsican woman born around 283 AD at Mariana. A young virgin, she had decided to devote herself fully to the service of God. By order of the prefect Barbarus, she was imprisoned and tortured for her faith. She was martyred at Mariana by being stoned to death.
After her death, the governor of the province ordered for her body to be burnt to prevent its veneration. However, it was saved from the flames by Christians. Her body was placed on a boat bound for Africa. Gratianus (Graziano), the boat’s pilot; Benedict (Benenato), a priest; and Apollinaris, his deacon; believed it would receive proper Christian burial there. However, a storm overtook the boat and a dove flew out from the mouth of the saint. The dove guided the boat to present-day Les Gaumates, today part of the Principality of Monaco, where a chapel dedicated to Saint George already stood.
Her body was discovered by fishermen. In her honor a chapel was built, which stands in Monaco still. Traditionally, flowers are said to bloom before their season on January 27, the saint’s feast day.
Today, the Princely family of Monaco along with the Monégasques and members of the Diocese of Monaco take part in a torchlight ceremony in front of the Sainte-Dévote church. A boat is placed in front of the church whereupon the Princely family along with the attendees set the boat ablaze and celebrate.
Anyway, this was the first time Charlene Wittstock participated in this sacred event, and by all accounts she seemed to have enjoyed herself.