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Church of St. Devote

Church of St. Devote (8)

It all began in the 4th century in Corsica, which was under Roman rule. The governor Diocletian had ordered the persecution and annihilation of the Christians.

Among them was an innocent girl who was detained, imprisoned and tortured to death for not renouncing her Christian faith. After her death, the Romans were about to burn the body when a group of Christians made off with it and placed it on a small boat bound for Africa to later bury it. But a terrible storm struck them at sea and, miraculously, from the mouth of the young girl, a dove appeared and guided the boat to shore. To the area of coastline that is today Monaco. Since the young girl arrived here, the Monegasques have been under her divine protection. According to legend, she has even appeared to them, for example, when they were being attacked by the Genoese and the Pisans in the Middle Ages.

We are evidently talking about St Devote, the patron saint of Monaco and the island of Corsica, for whom the Monegasques, including the princes, feel great fervour and passion.

Because of this, very close to where that boat ran aground about 1,700 years ago, today you can see this beautiful church dedicated to St Devote and the Royal Family.

The first historical mention of the old chapel belonging to the monks of the abbey of Saint-Pons dates back to 1075. Since then, the chapel has been rebuilt and extended on several occasions, became a convent in the 13th century and was acquired by Honoré Grimaldi I in 1536. In the 19th century, Charles Lenormand, the architect of the Cathedral and the Church of St Charles, was responsible for enlarging the small chapel of St Devote in order to turn it into a parish church in 1887.

As you can now understand, this young martyr and saint is greatly beloved here. According to local tradition, the colours of the flag are also inspired by her. The white represents the boat that transported her and the red her blood. In fact, they are also the same colours as the coat of arms of the Grimaldis of Genoa, whose descendants rule Monaco today.

If you are lucky enough to be in Monaco on 27 January, you will see some of the events celebrated on the Day of St Devote – the Principality’s national holiday. They are very important for Monaco and the Royal Family.

The day before, memorial services are held and doves are released into the sky. On the 27th, a Mass is held in the Cathedral, attended by all local dignitaries: the Royal Family, the authorities, cardinals, bishops, etc. Later, in the afternoon, there is a long procession and blessing of the Palace, the city and the sea. And finally, at night, a large fireworks display and other events at the Monte Carlo Opera and other historical sites.

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