Devota

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Saint Devota
Saintdevota.jpg
Born Mariana, Corsica
Died c. 303
Mariana, Corsica
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast January 27
Attributes palm, crown of roses, dove, boat, coat-of-arms of the Principality of Monaco; dead maiden in a boat on the sea with a dove flying ahead of it
Patronage Corsica; Monaco; House of Grimaldi; Mariana, Corsica; mariners

Saint Devota (French: Sainte Dévote; died ca. 303 AD) is the patron saint of Corsica and Monaco. She was killed during the persecutions of Diocletian and Maximian. She is sometimes identified with another Corsican saint named Julia, who was described in Latin as Deo devota ("devoted to God"). The description was misinterpreted as a proper name.[1] The legend connected with her is similar to those told of other saints of the region, such as Saint Reparata[2] and Saint Torpes.

Legend[edit]

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. Her mouth was crushed, and her body was dragged through rocks and brambles. She was martyred at Mariana by being racked or stoned to death.[3]

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.[4]

Her mutilated 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.

Sainte-Dévote Chapel[edit]

Further information: Sainte-Dévote Chapel

The Saint-Devote chapel is first mentioned about 1070, belonging to the abbey of Saint-Pons. The chapel was rebuilt and expanded several times. It became a priory in the 13th century and in 1536 was acquired by Honoré I, Lord of Monaco. The chapel became the parish church in 1887.[5]

Veneration in Monaco[edit]

The “Legend of Saint Dévote” is one of the Principality of Monaco’s oldest traditions - it has influenced national culture in fields as diverse as religion, folklore and popular beliefs, history, literature, the arts, painting, music, coins and stamps. This legend, passed on through a medieval document, holds a special place in the heart of Monaco's people and over the centuries has been awarded a permanent place in the city's history.[6] Reports of miracles soon sprung in connection with the tomb. During incursions by Moors, Devota's relics were translated to safety at the monastery of Cimiez. They were returned to Monaco, to a church restored much later by Antonio I, prince of Monaco.

In 1070, Antinope, the captain of a Florentine ship, attempted to steal the reliquary containing Devota's relics. The legend states that a violent wind impeded him from escaping with the relics. Arrested, Ugo Grimaldi ordered his ears and nose to be cut off. Antinope's boat was then burnt on the beach of Monaco.[3]

In the 16th century, Devota was invoked for protection against the Genoese and the Pisans. Their ultimate failure to take away the independence of Monaco was attributed to the divine protection of Devota. An end to the outbreak of the plague in 1631 was attributed to Devota, as well as the expulsion of the Spanish on the night of 17 November 1641 -a galley taken from the Spanish was rebaptized "Devota." Monégasque coins bearing the effigy of Devota were issued in the 16th century, beginning in the reign of Honoré II, Prince of Monaco.

Her cult therefore became important to Monaco and the Grimaldis. Louis II, Prince of Monaco introduced the custom in 1924 of setting fire to a fishing boat on the evening of January 26, in memory of the retributive action against Antinope. A white dove symbolizing her spirit is also released. On January 27, a religious service at the Saint Nicholas Cathedral, with the Grimaldis and other important figures, is held and there is a procession of the relics, accompanied by a blessing of the Palace, the town, and the sea. Fireworks and receptions in the Monte Carlo Opera House also take place. Albert II, Prince of Monaco participated in this ceremony.[7]

A series of postage stamps bearing Devota's likeness were issued in 1944 as well as 1992.

However, one source has commented that "Saint Devota's name is unfortunately heard on the radio waves solely for the Monaco's Grand Prix Formula 1 for the famous bend of Saint Devota."[8]

Joseph Méry put the legend of Saint Devota into verse. 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). It was composed in 1927 and is important because until then the Monégasque language, had been utilized for speech.[9]

Diffusion of cult in Corsica[edit]

In the 17th century, some of Devota's relics were transported from Monaco to the Jesuit church of Sant'Ignazio on the island. Between 1727 and 1751, attempts were made to receive from the Vatican official recognition of Devota as special patroness of Corsica. These were refused because there was scant evidence of her existence. However, the diffusion of her cult continued and Pasquale Paoli created a short-lived "Order of Saint-Devote" in 1757 during the movement for Corsican independence.[4]

In 1820, the first bishop of the diocese of Corsica proclaimed both Saint Devota and Saint Julia to be the principal patron saints of Corsica. In 1893, a church was dedicated to Saint Devota on the island. Her cult was officially approved in 1984 by the bishop of Ajaccio. The new Roman Martyrology commemorates her on January 27, with the description, "At Mariana, on the island of Corsica, in memory of Saint Devota, virgin and martyr."[3]

Legacy[edit]

Sainte Dévote was recently selected as the main motif of a high value collector's coin; the €5 silver 1700th anniversary of Sainte Dévote's death commemorative coin, minted in 2004. On the reverse of the coin, a statue of the saint can be seen. Next to it, a representation of the dove guiding the boat to the coast of Monaco, as recorded in the legend, can be observed.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Saint of the Day, January 27 Retrieved 2012-03-02.
  2. ^ Anna Jameson, Sacred and Legendary Art (Longman, Brown, Green, 1857), 648.
  3. ^ a b c Santa Devota
  4. ^ a b http://www.coe.int/t/e/cultural_co-operation/culture/completed_projects/legends/monaco.asp[dead link]
  5. ^ Monaco, Sainte Devote Church.
  6. ^ Monaco, "Sainte Devote and Monaco".
  7. ^ http://worldroots.com/brigitte/royal/gifs/albertmonaco40.jpg[dead link]
  8. ^ http://www.saintedevote.com/m3.html[dead link]
  9. ^ Saint Devote, patron saint of Monaco

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]