Saint Devote, patron saint of Monaco
The story and the legend
In the very early 4th century, in Corsica (which was a Roman province at that time) the Roman governor, Diocletian, ordered the great persecution of the Christians.
A young Christian who never denied her faith
A young Christian, Devote, was arrested, imprisoned and tortured. She died without denying her faith. After her death, the governor of the province ordered for her body to be burnt, but the Christians saved her body and placed it on a boat bound for Africa, where they believed she would receive a proper Christian burial.
And the boat ran aground in the Gaumates small Valley
Right from the first hours of the crossing, a storm overtook the boat. Then, a dove flew out from Devotes mouth and without incident guided the boat to Monaco where it ran aground in the Gaumates (site of the present-day Saint Devote church). It was the sixth day before the calends of February, which approximately corresponds to January, 27.
The stolen relics
An oratory shows the place of the tomb. The faithful, who were Monegasque residents or sailors passing through Monaco, numerously went to meditate at the Saints grave and the first miracles happened. However, one night, a man stole the saints relics with the aim of negotiating their blessing. The sacrilege turned out badly because a group of fishermen impeded him from escaping with the relics. They pursued him and finally caught him by rowing hard. The thiefs boat was then burnt on the beach of Monaco as an expiatory sacrifice.
The divine protection of the Saint
In the 16th century, it was told that the Saint protected Monaco during a war against the Genoese and the Pisans: the enemies besieged the stronghold. For more than six months, their attacks were repelled by the Monegasque to whom Saint Devote had appeared ensuring them the divine protection and the victory. On March 15, 1507, the Genoese raised the siege. It is since 1924 and under the reign of Prince Louis II that a fishing boat has been burnt on the evening of January 26.
A great fervour
The protective soul of the Monegasque identity
The cult of Saint Devote still remains fervent In the Principality of Monaco. Her cult in connection with Monaco and its Princes can officially be seen in every church of the Principality and on some coins. It is the protective soul of the Monegasque identity whose relics have been implored with joys and sorrows. Please note that the first book written in Monegasque language by the Monegasque poet, Louis Notari, is entitled A legenda de Santa Devota (The legend of Saint Devote).