St. Devote Day is a public holiday in Monaco, celebrated on 27 January each year. The holiday is in honour of St. Devote, the patron saint of the country who was killed during the persecutions of Diocletian and Maxmilian in the 4th century CE.
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During the 4th century, Diocletian ordered the persecution of Christians in the regions of Monaco and Corsica, both Roman provinces at the time. Devote was a young Christian who was arrested, imprisoned and tortured. She refused to renounce her faith before her death and the governor of the province ordered that her body be burned. Christians rescued her body and placed it on a boat headed to Africa where she could receive a Christian burial.
Immediately, a storm overtook the boat. It is said that a dove flew from Devotes mouth and guided the boat, through the storm to Monaco, where it ran aground in the Guamates Valley where the Saint Devote Church is today. Based on calendars of the day, it was around 27 January when the boat ran aground. It is believed that she protects Monaco until today. She is believed to have helped repel the Genoese and Pisans during the 16th century. She was also credited with ending a plague in 1631 as well as ending the Spanish occupation in 1641.
St. Devote has always been an important figure in the history of Monaco. Pope Sixtus IV, who served as pope from 1471 to 1484, was the first to issue a papal bull allowing indulgences for the Feast of St. Devote. Her feast day has been an important day in the country for centuries, but began to be officially celebrated in 1874. It became an official holiday in the country in 1924.
The night before the Feast of St. Devote, a boat is set afire on the beach. The boat burning is a symbol of an attempt to steal relics from her tomb that was thwarted by local fisherman who burned the boat of the thief. A dove is also released to represent the miracle which brought St. Devote to Monaco. Formal services are held and are attended by the Princely Family and other dignitaries. A procession of the relics is often held and the Prince issues a blessing. Fireworks displays are held in the evening with a formal dinner at the Monte Carlo Opera House. On St. Devote Day, special church services are held and the day is spent in quite reflection of the protection offered by the patron saint.