Santiago Cathedral Botafumeiro

The video below shows the Botafumeiro in action during one of the pilgrims masses.

The Santiago de Compostela Botafumeiro is the largest censer in the world, weighing 80 kg and measuring 1.60 m in height.

It is normally on exhibition in the library of the cathedral, but during certain important religious events it is attached to the pulley mechanism and filled with 40 kg of charcoal and incense.

In the Jubilee Years, whenever St James’s Day falls on a Sunday, the Botafumeiro is also attached in all the Pilgrims’ Masses.

Eight red-robed tiraboleiros pull the ropes and bring it into a swinging motion almost to the roof of the transept, reaching speeds of 60 km/h and dispensing thick clouds of incense.

One irreverent explanation of this custom, which originated more than 700 years ago–although incense has been used in Catholic ritual from the earliest times–is that it assisted in masking the stench emanating from hundreds of unwashed pilgrims. Read more on Santiago Cathedral.

Sarria to Santiago de Compostela – Last Section of the Camino Frances

This video was produced by the Spanish Tourist Board that looks after the area around Galicia where all the Caminos to Santiago finish at Santiago de Compostela.  You can, however, keep walking to what was known as the “end of the world” at Cape Finisterre.  Most pilgrims would at least get the bus to Finisterre to watch the sunset and close their Camino.

This is a short video, only about two minutes, of the last part of the Camino Frances, Sarria to Santiago de Compostela, also know as the French route.  It brings back good memories for me.  One year I walked and finished before getting this far, just before Galicia.  Another year I walked the whole route from Roncesvalles, as I just could not bear the thought of the hills again from St Jean.

The last 150km or so of the Camino Frances I did not find as good as the route before then.  And what do I mean by “not as good”?

From Sarria, which is 112km from Santiago de Compostela, there are a lot more pilgrims.  To Compostelacompostela a pilgrim has to walk at least the last 100km or cycle the last 200km.  The effect of this is that the last parts to Santiago become quite crowded and a divide seems to open between pilgrims that start here and people who walked for a few weeks to get to this point – I have heard it called the real pilgrims and the rest.  Perhaps a bit elitist of the ones that have been walking for a few weeks and not very pilgrim like.  But the differences are very obvious.

You see women with makeup and jewelry once again, as most of the long distance pilgrims have abandoned the idea of daily makeup.  Those of us that have been walking for a while have been washing our clothes at the end of everyday generally by hand, and at this point the clothes are near to the end of their life.  Not so for the new pilgrims.

And while we have got used to the idea of just wandering along every day, the newer walkers are rushing from hostel to hostel – this is the area where it does get more difficult to find somewhere to stay at night – I used a couple of pensions on the last stretch.

However this video gives a great impression of the last part, putting aside my complaints of above, it is still quite beautiful – and if this is all that people have time for I should really leave them alone to enjoy and point my thoughts somewhere else.