Santiago: Cathedral, Park, Mass

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Camino de Santiago del Norte
Days 35 & 36 of our Adventure: Santiago de Compostela
Friday & Saturday October 6-7, 2017

Santiago de Compostela

We are still in awe of this beautiful city and its ever-changing occupants. We finally made it to the Pilgrims’ Mass last night. It was in Spanish, so we didn’t understand much of what was being said. But you know, the Roman Catholic Mass is the same everywhere, with just a few minor differences, so it was pretty easy to understand where we were in the service. The Mass was concelebrated by about 8 priests. Hard to say, as we were seated way in the back. Note to anyone who wants to attend Mass in Santiago: Get there an hour and a half early. One of the shopkeepers said that getting on line by 7:00 (for the 7:30 PM Mass) would be fine. We should have been there an hour earlier. The Cathedral was packed!!

Before Mass there were several announcements about photos being “forbidden” during the Mass, until after Mass is over. My photographer is normally a rule-follower; but he’s not Catholic…. So, enjoy the pictures of the amazing Botafumeiro swinging from ropes.

The Botafumeiro (‘censer’ in Galician) is one of the most famous and popular symbols of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It is a large censer (filled with burning incense) that swings from the central dome of the Cathedral, from which it hangs by a system of pulleys, to the side naves. Eight men are required to move it, who are known as the tiraboleiros, as it weighs 53 kg and measures 1.50 meters; it is suspended at a height of 20 meters and can reach a high speed.

As luck would have it, we wanted to take a tour of the Cathedral today, and they were letting people in this afternoon. I thought that was odd, since the 12:00 noon Pilgrims’ Mass was in progress. We quietly walked around the outer chapels, and then we got onto a line to climb behind the altar (mind you, people were doing this during the Consecration). We eventually climbed up some stairs, hugged the huge statue of Santiago (St. James), and said a silent prayer. We happened to reach this statue during Communion. It was very emotional, and I’m glad that we were at the right place at the right time.

And THEN, we could see that the eight tiraboleiros were starting to take their places around the Botafumeiro. We were right under it as they started swinging it! Mike took pictures as I recorded a short video. Mostly I wanted to capture the beautiful hymn that was being sung during this experience of a lifetime. I’m having trouble uploading the video from my phone (too large), so look at it on Facebook. Or here (from an internet search).

Besides the spiritual lift last night and today, we also ran into one of our Camino compadres, Garrett from Ireland last night! He had reservations for dinner; we were just going to grab some tapas. So instead, we joined Garrett, and we had a really fun dinner, talking about our shared and separate experiences on our journeys. Garrett had done the Northern route before, and we talked about how arduous some of the stages were.

We went for a walk in the Alameda Park…. So beautiful!! And of course walked all around the streets and alleys of Santiago, eating tapas, drinking café con leche and wine, doing a little shopping. Some of the photos in the Plaza around the Cathedral were taken very early in the morning before the crowds arrived and before the sun prevented us from fully capturing the beauty of the buildings. We will hate to leave here tomorrow, but a new adventure awaits!!

Thank you for joining us on our Camino. We hope that you enjoyed the “Northern” Way of St. James through our eyes. Words and pictures don’t come close to capturing the experience. Maybe someday you’ll do your own Camino! Love to all of you.

Lisa & Mike

3 thoughts on “Santiago: Cathedral, Park, Mass

  1. Dear Lisa and Mike, I am delighted that your visit to the Cathedral coincided with the pilgrim mass today so you got to see everything including the swinging at the end. It is quite amazing. I will view your video when I get home and have a bigger screen.
    May your Camino continue, Garrett


  2. I could not wait. What a great video! You captured everything and I was there today too – tucked away at the back. Well done and thanks, Garrett


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