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Cleansing of the Pilgrims

The faithful (and skeptical) that attend mass at the Santiago de Compostela cathedral look forward to seeing the botafumeiro hoisted high and swung high across the width of the church. This incense censer is one of the largest in the world. The tradition of burning incense at the pilgrim masses dates back nearly a millennium. There is a spiritual element to burning incense. Traditionally there was also a practical matter of masking the odiferous pilgrims.

Unfortunately, in the present day the botafumeiro is only regularly scheduled for one mass a week on Friday and special holy days. If you are fortunate, a group will pay extra to have it used at a mass you are attending.

We were fortunate.

We had a hot tip from our friend, Bob, that it would be used at the noon mass on Wednesday, our last day in Santiago. We got there an hour early to get good seats.

You can see from the pictures and video that it takes a team of eight to swing it. The botafumeiro itself is just under five feet tall and weighs over 100 pounds.

As Laurie said it is a special bit of pageantry on the camino—not to be missed.

The Botafumeiro in action

Trip Update

We wrapped up our camino with a rest day in Santiago and are now heading for a few weeks on the northern Spanish coast, visiting towns that we passed through on our Camino del Norte trek. Maybe we will finally get that beach time that eluded us due to weather or schedule.

6 thoughts on “Cleansing of the Pilgrims”

  1. Do you know what is the technologies used for the vidéos taken by uour 8 friends ?
    I am interested to learn more on those technologies ?

    Best Regards,

    1. For the daily videos we use an app called Relive. It’s from a Dutch company. There is a free version but we used a paid version which gives us a few more choices for music. Laurie handled the Relive video every day while I put the blog together.

  2. Fabulous trip! We have enjoyed your blog, photos and Relive videos, it was a shared experience 🙂
    Congratulations Dennis and Laurie!!! Have a fantastic rest of the trip.

    1. Hi Dennis,

      I hope you are well with Laurie, I am still in contact with Carl and I hope I will be able to see him in San Sébastien with Marie-Laure to your Best Secret Restaurant of all Spain for a wonderful dinner with the view of the sunset outside, of course 😉

      Your last vidéo with the censer was just fabulous with the sound and everything.
      Do you know what is

      Warmest Regards,

      1. For the video of the botofumerio I used my iPhone. I have a Canon Powershot which i like to use but the battery died on the third day in France and I was unable to get a new one.

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