On the evening of Monday, January 26, 2015, Their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco attended a special Mass at the Eglise Sainte Dévote in celebration of the Fête de Sainte-Dévote. Sainte-Dévote is the patron Saint of the Princely Family of Monaco, the Monégasques, and the Diocese of Monaco.
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.
After the Mass the princely couple along with Archbishop Bernard Barsi, members of the Diocese of Monaco, various Monégasque government officials as well as citizens participated in the traditional burning of the boat in front of the Eglise Sainte-Dévote.
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.
If you missed this evening’s Mass you may watch it again here.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images/V.Hache