On January 26, 2012, Their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene along with Her Royal Highness Princess Caroline of Hanover and her daughter, Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra of Hanover, 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.
This evening the Princely family of Monaco along with the Monégasques and members of the Diocese of Monaco participated in a torchlight ceremony in front of the Sainte-Dévote church. A boat is placed in front of the little church whereupon the Princely family along with other attendees set the boat ablaze and celebrate.
Tomorrow, — per tradition — the princely family will attend a traditional Mass at the Cathédrale de Monaco then a balcony wave from the Palais Princier de Monaco.
To learn more about Sainte-Dévote please click here.
Photo courtesy of Daylife