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Botafumeiro best chance?

Maxcheese

Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
So, I understand the botafumeiro is only officially used during official celebrations, but I also gather that it's also used way more than this because of benefactors 'buying' the service. I was wondering which daily pilgrims mass I should attend in order to get the most chances to see it in action, if there's such a thing 😊
Gracia peregrinos!
 
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natefaith

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
2009, 2014, 2017
I would say that the 12pm noon mass is still the best chance, over the morning mass and the evening mass. BUT you're correct, it's random how often the botafumeiro swings unless you're there on a special day in the Catholic liturgical calendar or someone has sponsored a special actuation.
 
Past OR future Camino
2019
So, I understand the botafumeiro is only officially used during official celebrations, but I also gather that it's also used way more than this because of benefactors 'buying' the service. I was wondering which daily pilgrims mass I should attend in order to get the most chances to see it in action, if there's such a thing 😊
Gracia peregrinos!
Hi
In my experience it is always used at the Sunday 12.00 mass on a Sunday. Any other time it is pot luck.
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Cleigh

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
So, I understand the botafumeiro is only officially used during official celebrations, but I also gather that it's also used way more than this because of benefactors 'buying' the service. I was wondering which daily pilgrims mass I should attend in order to get the most chances to see it in action, if there's such a thing 😊
Gracia peregrinos!
We asked when we arrived on sept 21st and it is strictly used for paying groups only. So….highly unlikely. Disappointing considering a holy year.
 

Hugh Larkin

Perpetual Wanderer
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2014
Sanabria 2018
Pieterpad 2018
Kumano Kodo (202??)
In 2014 when we completed the Frances, we experienced the butafumiero twice, first on the day we arrived in time for the Pilgrims’ Mass, then again 3 days later at another Pilgrims’ Mass, neither being a Sunday. I don’t recall seeing any benefactors, but recall someone saying that a very large group had made a group donation for one of the events.

In 2018 after completing the Sanabrias, there were 2 benefactors that had donated for the Mass we attended.

For us, it was total luck, or maybe divine intervention, that granted us 3 viewings for 3 masses.

BC,
Hugh
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
I would say that the 12pm noon mass is still the best chance, over the morning mass and the evening mass. BUT you're correct, it's random how often the botafumeiro swings unless you're there on a special day in the Catholic liturgical calendar or someone has sponsored a special actuation.
Because of COVID related capacity restrictions, you can improve your chances of getting in to a Mass if you ask for a ticket to a Mass at the Pilgrim Office WHEN YOU ARE AT THE COUNTER GETTING YOUR COMPOSTELA - not before or after.

The staff are provided with a limited supply of colored passes to give to arriving pilgrims. The colors vary for each of the four Masses and are changed daily. IIRC they only have about 30 per Mass, each day.

You have no control over which Mass they have tickets left for. But, if you are an early-bird and one of the first to get served at the Pilgrim Office on any given day, you stand a chance of scoring a free pass to the next Mass - usually the noon Mass. Unless they changed frequency or times, they increased the number of Pilgrim Masses to four daily: 0730, 1200, 1630, 1930.

This pass enables you to walk to the head of the queue at the South Apse entry door off Plaza Praterias. You get to jump the line legitimately. As capacity was reduced from over 800 people per Mass to about 225 per Mass, it DOES make a difference.

Hope this helps.

Tom
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Because of COVID related capacity restrictions, you can improve your chances of getting in to a Mass if you ask for a ticket to a Mass at the Pilgrim Office WHEN YOU ARE AT THE COUNTER GETTING YOUR COMPOSTELA - not before or after.

The staff are provided with a limited supply of colored passes to give to arriving pilgrims. The colors vary for each of the four Masses and are changed daily. IIRC they only have about 30 per Mass, each day.

You have no control over which Mass they have tickets left for. But, if you are an early-bird and one of the first to get served at the Pilgrim Office on any given day, you stand a chance of scoring a free pass to the next Mass - usually the noon Mass. Unless they changed frequency or times, they increased the number of Pilgrim Masses to four daily: 0730, 1200, 1630, 1930.

This pass enables you to walk to the head of the queue at the South Apse entry door off Plaza Praterias. You get to jump the line legitimately. As capacity was reduced from over 800 people per Mass to about 225 per Mass, it DOES make a difference.

Hope this helps.

Tom
Tom, you are the man for all things Camino regarding the Pilgrim Office and the Cathedral. Thanks for sharing!
 
Past OR future Camino
2022
I sure hope I don't get into trouble with this post. I'm submitting it mostly on a whim, without a lot of self reflection. It's perfectly okay to shoot it down. I only ask people to be civil. Here goes:

Could the cathedral offer a mass every day with the botafumeiro? I understand that it's use is not free of cost. After all, a number of people are required to control it, the botafumeiro requires upkeep, and it's use may increase the cost of insurance since accidents can happen. How many people would be hurt if the cable or connections break, allowing the botafumeiro to fly into the seating area? Despite this risk, I suspect the vast majority of pilgrims and tourists would love to see it in action. Now for my controversial comments. Why not charge attendance at this special daily mass? The cost of using the botafumeiro would be covered if everyone paid an amount similar to the cost of a night's stay at an albergue. Perhaps even charge an extra Euro or two. Religion isn't free. Buildings require upkeep. People working for the church need to be paid. Even unpaid religious positions incur a cost. All expenses of the church must be met. If anyone objects to paying for the special mass, they can attend any of the other masses. Before people on the forum annihilate me, let me add that I am catholic. When I attend mass, I feel obligated to make a donation. I see nothing wrong with this expectation. Religious organizations, including the catholic church, need money for the many ways in which they help people. My fear is that requiring paid attendance would cheapen the mass and what it represents. Would paid attendance make the mass more of a tourist attraction? Since the botafumeiro is available for a fee to organizations, is it too different for everyone attending the mass to be a "paying member of an impromptu organization"? I look forward to reading comments from the priests, nuns, and other religious people who follow this forum. I am way out of my league here and welcome a discussion. I have no doubt I will learn something, and others too may learn something.

Thank you,
Bob
 
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Sarria to Santiago 2014
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Norte. 2018
So if I want to pay to have it on my birthday where do I go and then do I have to stand in line to see it? I feel I only live once and I want it fir that day. No sarcastic remarks needed.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I sure hope I don't get into trouble with this post. I'm submitting it mostly on a whim, without a lot of self reflection. It's perfectly okay to shoot it down. I only ask people to be civil... I have no doubt I will learn something
Bob - We on the forum have no control or influence on the cathedral officials who manage the botafumeiro. You have raised a lot of questions that really illustrate the many complexities of the matter, that involve many emotions as well as religious protocols, business considerations, and regulatory issues, just for starters. We would need to learn about all of them. This discussion on the forum could lead to argument rather than resolution.
 
Past OR future Camino
2012
Ah, the tyranny of spectacle. Would you get a discount if you're stuck right down the end of the Nave; pay extra to have it wooshing right past your nose? Would there be a ballot for tickets? Would the Pilgrim Offices queuing machine offer "Double Whammy" tickets?

I'm indifferent to the spectacle, indeed, to the ritual but I guess that anyone willing to pay has a reasonable entitlement to watch Whales off Nantucket; the Northern Lights from their cruise-ship deck, or, indeed, that great Thurible swing. But the idea that anyone should pay (aside the collection plate) to attend a service of worship.... They'll be selling short-cuts to Heaven next
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
So if I want to pay to have it on my birthday where do I go and then do I have to stand in line to see it? I feel I only live once and I want it fir that day. No sarcastic remarks needed.
The swinging of the botafumeiro will cost about 450€. Arrangements can be made by writing to botafumeiro@catedraldesantiago.es

http://catedraldesantiago.es/en/liturgy/
 
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The swinging of the botafumeiro will cost about 450€. Arrangements can be made by writing to botafumeiro@catedraldesantiago.es

http://catedraldesantiago.es/en/liturgy/
Yes, but does the person/s paying get a special ticket for a reserved front row seat? I could barely see the action when I had to stand near the back for the whole service in Spanish...but then I didn't pay.🙂
I pay for the rooftop tour every time I'm in Santiago and think nothing of the cost to do that. I don't see much difference as long as most of the normal scheduled church services continue to take place.
Personally I don't really care either way, but I still think it is a good question.
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
I sure hope I don't get into trouble with this post. I'm submitting it mostly on a whim, without a lot of self reflection. It's perfectly okay to shoot it down. I only ask people to be civil. Here goes:

Could the cathedral offer a mass every day with the botafumeiro? I understand that it's use is not free of cost. After all, a number of people are required to control it, the botafumeiro requires upkeep, and it's use may increase the cost of insurance since accidents can happen. How many people would be hurt if the cable or connections break, allowing the botafumeiro to fly into the seating area? Despite this risk, I suspect the vast majority of pilgrims and tourists would love to see it in action. Now for my controversial comments. Why not charge attendance at this special daily mass? The cost of using the botafumeiro would be covered if everyone paid an amount similar to the cost of a night's stay at an albergue. Perhaps even charge an extra Euro or two. Religion isn't free. Buildings require upkeep. People working for the church need to be paid. Even unpaid religious positions incur a cost. All expenses of the church must be met. If anyone objects to paying for the special mass, they can attend any of the other masses. Before people on the forum annihilate me, let me add that I am catholic. When I attend mass, I feel obligated to make a donation. I see nothing wrong with this expectation. Religious organizations, including the catholic church, need money for the many ways in which they help people. My fear is that requiring paid attendance would cheapen the mass and what it represents. Would paid attendance make the mass more of a tourist attraction? Since the botafumeiro is available for a fee to organizations, is it too different for everyone attending the mass to be a "paying member of an impromptu organization"? I look forward to reading comments from the priests, nuns, and other religious people who follow this forum. I am way out of my league here and welcome a discussion. I have no doubt I will learn something, and others too may learn something.

Thank you,
I sure hope I don't get into trouble with this post. I'm submitting it mostly on a whim, without a lot of self reflection. It's perfectly okay to shoot it down. I only ask people to be civil. Here goes:

Could the cathedral offer a mass every day with the botafumeiro? I understand that it's use is not free of cost. After all, a number of people are required to control it, the botafumeiro requires upkeep, and it's use may increase the cost of insurance since accidents can happen. How many people would be hurt if the cable or connections break, allowing the botafumeiro to fly into the seating area? Despite this risk, I suspect the vast majority of pilgrims and tourists would love to see it in action. Now for my controversial comments. Why not charge attendance at this special daily mass? The cost of using the botafumeiro would be covered if everyone paid an amount similar to the cost of a night's stay at an albergue. Perhaps even charge an extra Euro or two. Religion isn't free. Buildings require upkeep. People working for the church need to be paid. Even unpaid religious positions incur a cost. All expenses of the church must be met. If anyone objects to paying for the special mass, they can attend any of the other masses. Before people on the forum annihilate me, let me add that I am catholic. When I attend mass, I feel obligated to make a donation. I see nothing wrong with this expectation. Religious organizations, including the catholic church, need money for the many ways in which they help people. My fear is that requiring paid attendance would cheapen the mass and what it represents. Would paid attendance make the mass more of a tourist attraction? Since the botafumeiro is available for a fee to organizations, is it too different for everyone attending the mass to be a "paying member of an impromptu organization"? I look forward to reading comments from the priests, nuns, and other religious people who follow this forum. I am way out of my league here and welcome a discussion. I have no doubt I will learn something, and others too may learn something.

Thank you,
Bob
I don’t disagree with you entirely, but anyone can see the Botafumeiro ceremony at any time, streamed to their big screen TV, anywhere in the world, on You Tube.

There are hundreds of videos recorded by pilgrims or tourists. Some of them are quite good.

Whenever I am having a bad, depressing day, I sometimes view this ceremony to bring back the good memories.

The current scheme, where a private group pays to have the Botafumeiro used at a specific Mass seems to work. During the season - from Holy Week through September - there seems to be some group funding the use of this historical device in the very popular ceremony almost every day.

A staff person at the Pilgrim Office administers this program. However, this person NEVER tells in advance.

Even when I am working there, it is tough to find out. The only clue one gets is when a couple of the paid staff leave the office to go to the Cathedral, as they have the honor to be some of the Tirabuleiros (sp?) who manage the ropes during the ceremony. Other than that, there is no advance clue.

It might be interesting to point out that, in the Catholic liturgy, an incenser (that is the generic description of the Botafumeiro - albeit huge) is traditionally used at the very beginning of the Mass, and perhaps after the Gospel reading, after the Offertory, at the start of the Consecration portion of the Mass. This is the most solemn and important portion of a Catholic Mass.

However, some decades ago, the clergy realized that they completely lost control of the attendees once the Botafumeiro was used.

As a result, the Archbishop at the time moved the Botafumeiro ceremony to the very end of the Mass, AFTER the closing blessing was bestowed on all attendees. This way, this historic spectacle and the general disorder and hubbub it engendered did not disrupt the orderly process of the Holy Mass. No amount of “shushing” would control the noise.

So, THAT is why the Botafumeiro ceremony is literally after the Mass is over.

Hope this helps.

Tom
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
So if I want to pay to have it on my birthday where do I go and then do I have to stand in line to see it? I feel I only live once and I want it fir that day. No sarcastic remarks needed.
You contact the Pilgrim Office by email to arrange and pay. I am reasonably certain that if you paid for the Botafumeiro to be used, you can get a pass to ensure you and your group, get in to that Mass.

It is doable.

Hope this helps,

Tom
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Yes, but does the person/s paying get a special ticket for a reserved front row seat? I could barely see the action when I had to stand near the back for the whole service in Spanish...but then I didn't pay.🙂
I pay for the rooftop tour every time I'm in Santiago and think nothing of the cost to do that. I don't see much difference as long as most of the normal scheduled church services continue to take place.
Personally I don't really care either way, but I still think it is a good question.
It IS a good question, but I do not have an answer. My suspicion is that the Cathedral authorities would “push back” against what they would see as commercializing a solemn ceremony.

Hope this helps,

Tom
 
Last edited:
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Ah, the tyranny of spectacle. Would you get a discount if you're stuck right down the end of the Nave; pay extra to have it wooshing right past your nose? Would there be a ballot for tickets? Would the Pilgrim Offices queuing machine offer "Double Whammy" tickets?

I'm indifferent to the spectacle, indeed, to the ritual but I guess that anyone willing to pay has a reasonable entitlement to watch Whales off Nantucket; the Northern Lights from their cruise-ship deck, or, indeed, that great Thurible swing. But the idea that anyone should pay (aside the collection plate) to attend a service of worship.... They'll be selling short-cuts to Heaven next
Ironically Tink, one July, when I was sitting inside the altar rail with a group of other volunteers, I happened to have the end seat on the bench, immediately next to the portion of the altar rail that is opened to accommodate the swing arc of the Botafumeiro.

During the ceremony, I could actually see the flames inside the Botafumeiro and feel the heat on my left arm as this huge BBQ passed perhaps half a meter from my bare arm. At that moment, I came to understand the meaning of the colloquial phrase - “HOLY SMOKE!”

Just a little levity - but completely true.

Tom
 

Davybhoy

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (August 2019)
Portuguese (planned August 2020)
The swinging of the botafumeiro will cost about 450€. Arrangements can be made by writing to botafumeiro@catedraldesantiago.es
Is that all? 450euro? I wouldnt think it was hard to find 10 pilgrims in the square to pay 45E each to witness it or indeed 20 pilgrims at 22.50.... Do they need much notice? ie if I can find another 19 pilgrims by 11:30 can we have it at the midday mass? :)
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Past OR future Camino
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
Holy Smoke
@t2andreo and to think this is basically down to the tears of trees !!

 

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
I don’t disagree with you entirely, but anyone can see the Botafumeiro ceremony at any time, streamed to their big screen TV, anywhere in the world, on You Tube.

There are hundreds of videos recorded by pilgrims or tourists. Some of them are quite good.

Whenever I am having a bad, depressing day, I sometimes view this ceremony to bring back the good memories.

The current scheme, where a private group pays to have the Botafumeiro used at a specific Mass seems to work. During the season - from Holy Week through September - there seems to be some group funding the use of this historical device in the very popular ceremony almost every day.

A staff person at the Pilgrim Office administers this program. However, this person NEVER tells in advance.

Even when I am working there, it is tough to find out. The only clue one gets is when a couple of the paid staff leave the office to go to the Cathedral, as they have the honor to be some of the Tirabuleiros (sp?) who manage the ropes during the ceremony. Other than that, there is no advance clue.

It might be interesting to point out that, in the Catholic liturgy, an incenser (that is the generic description of the Botafumeiro - albeit huge) is traditionally used at the very beginning of the Mass, and perhaps after the Gospel reading, after the Offertory, at the start of the Consecration portion of the Mass. This is the most solemn and important portion of a Catholic Mass.

However, some decades ago, the clergy realized that they completely lost control of the attendees once the Botafumeiro was used.

As a result, the Archbishop at the time moved the Botafumeiro ceremony to the very end of the Mass, AFTER the closing blessing was bestowed on all attendees. This way, this historic spectacle and the general disorder and hubbub it engendered did not disrupt the orderly process of the Holy Mass. No amount of “shushing” would control the noise.

So, THAT is why the Botafumeiro ceremony is literally after the Mass is over.

Hope this helps.

Tom
Tom,
Thanks for your clarification re why the Botafumeiro occurs. Like you I too do the same.
"Whenever I am having a bad, depressing day, I sometimes view this ceremony to bring back the good memories."
 
Last edited:

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Holy Smoke
@t2andreo and to think this is basically down to the tears of trees !!

They could burn anything in there and the attendees would not know the difference. But the mixture includes Frankincense and is traditional. The Catholic Church is built on tradition.

Hope this helps.
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Is that all? 450euro? I wouldnt think it was hard to find 10 pilgrims in the square to pay 45E each to witness it or indeed 20 pilgrims at 22.50.... Do they need much notice? ie if I can find another 19 pilgrims by 11:30 can we have it at the midday mass? :)
Yes, it could be done - BUT - the arrangements need to be made well in advance, so the persons required to make it happen can be sorted in advance.

Hope this helps,

Tom
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I don’t disagree with you entirely, but anyone can see the Botafumeiro ceremony at any time, streamed to their big screen TV, anywhere in the world, on You Tube.

There are hundreds of videos recorded by pilgrims or tourists. Some of them are quite good.

Whenever I am having a bad, depressing day, I sometimes view this ceremony to bring back the good memories.

The current scheme, where a private group pays to have the Botafumeiro used at a specific Mass seems to work. During the season - from Holy Week through September - there seems to be some group funding the use of this historical device in the very popular ceremony almost every day.

A staff person at the Pilgrim Office administers this program. However, this person NEVER tells in advance.

Even when I am working there, it is tough to find out. The only clue one gets is when a couple of the paid staff leave the office to go to the Cathedral, as they have the honor to be some of the Tirabuleiros (sp?) who manage the ropes during the ceremony. Other than that, there is no advance clue.

It might be interesting to point out that, in the Catholic liturgy, an incenser (that is the generic description of the Botafumeiro - albeit huge) is traditionally used at the very beginning of the Mass, and perhaps after the Gospel reading, after the Offertory, at the start of the Consecration portion of the Mass. This is the most solemn and important portion of a Catholic Mass.

However, some decades ago, the clergy realized that they completely lost control of the attendees once the Botafumeiro was used.

As a result, the Archbishop at the time moved the Botafumeiro ceremony to the very end of the Mass, AFTER the closing blessing was bestowed on all attendees. This way, this historic spectacle and the general disorder and hubbub it engendered did not disrupt the orderly process of the Holy Mass. No amount of “shushing” would control the noise.

So, THAT is why the Botafumeiro ceremony is literally after the Mass is over.

Hope this helps.

Tom
I agree with your comment about watching it swing on YouTube. My first Camino the big one swung and I had a small digital camera and made a video instead of watching it swing. My second and 4th Camino they had the big one and I just watched. It was so much more fun and breathtaking to watch it without looking into a little video screen. No need to video it. Watch it and enjoy. If you want to tell and show your friends go right to YouTube. I barely remember the first time but the second two times I remember vividly.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
I agree with your comment about watching it swing on YouTube. My first Camino the big one swung and I had a small digital camera and made a video instead of watching it swing. My second and 4th Camino they had the big one and I just watched. It was so much more fun and breathtaking to watch it without looking into a little video screen. No need to video it. Watch it and enjoy. If you want to tell and show your friends go right to YouTube. I barely remember the first time but the second two times I remember vividly.
It56ny,

I can still "see" the sevices in my mind with pleasure and gratitude.

There may have been many pilgrims or just a few depending on the season and the year. ...In 2004, 2010 and 2011 the cathedral was densely crowded; the service most impressive concluding in a great cloud of fragrant smoke from the botafumeiro. Eight churchmen swung it in front of the altar; on a long rope sailing back and forth across the transept it nearly touched the ceiling!...But other years during Lent it was a simple ceremony. Perhaps 15 pilgrims attended; we all sat close to the new altar. In the nave were a few other worshipers. A solitary nun sang the service; her voice rose pure and clear. The places from which we had begun our walks were read. Since this was Lent it was 'austere' without any choir or swinging of the famous botafumeiro.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
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Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I can still "see" the sevices in my mind with pleasure and gratitude.
I could still "smell" the botafumeiro in Santiago as I was raised Catholic as a child and the incense swinging again at the cathedral made my many memories come flooding back as it was a weekly occurance for me growing up. I always looked forward to the priest going up and down the aisles releasing the smell as I really liked the odor of the frankincense. 🙂
 
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witsendwv

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
(2015)
Yes, but does the person/s paying get a special ticket for a reserved front row seat? I could barely see the action when I had to stand near the back for the whole service in Spanish...but then I didn't pay.🙂
I pay for the rooftop tour every time I'm in Santiago and think nothing of the cost to do that. I don't see much difference as long as most of the normal scheduled church services continue to take place.
Personally I don't really care either way, but I still think it is a good question.
When we walked the Camino Primitivo in 2016 and stopped at a B & B just before Melide we encountered a group from Argentina. Even though they had a support van we arrived on the same morning. We actually walked faster and further for the last few days because they told us that they had paid for the botafumiero on a particular day. While we did see it from a side nave, they all had front row seats. 😁
 
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Thank you to everyone for your comments. I closely followed the responses to my earlier posting and reflected on the issues. The responses by Tincatinker, t2andreo, and mspath had the greatest effect on me. I now realize that my original posting expressed thoughts coming from a tourist, not from a pilgrim. When I finally walk my camino (November? May?), I will happily attend mass without any expectation of seeing the botafumeiro in action. However, that being said, it must be awesome to see the ceremony in person. It may be spectacle, but it is a spectacle that has been going on for many hundreds of years. I watched several videos and found it all amazing. It's humbling to realize the botafumeiro ceremony is older than many countries. As much as I would like to see the ceremony, I understand how it can disrupt the sacredness of the mass. Placing the botafumeiro ceremony after the mass was a great idea. I even think that an occasional theatrical religious spectacle in all churches could be a good thing, as long as the ceremonies are thoughtful and closely linked to the mass, the church, the religious personages, and the devotees in attendance. Perhaps over the years and decades some of our bishops might get creative. (I have one idea, but this is not the place for it.) I hope the botafumeiro ceremony continues far into the future, either as a part of the mass or as its own separate ceremony. It would be sad to see this epic tradition come to a close. After all, is it necessarily bad to draw tourists into the cathedral? Might some of them have a religious experience? Might it renew the faith of someone?

One of the greatest strengths of Ivar's forum are the thoughtful and insightful comments by the experienced members in this and all threads. It's a pleasure to be a member.

Bob
 

Mycroft

Active Member
Yes, it could be done - BUT - the arrangements need to be made well in advance, so the persons required to make it happen can be sorted in advance.

Hope this helps,

Tom
Ah, you have confirmed my thought--that it all is planned in advance.
years ago I went to the cathedral and while there, asked if there were plans in the next few days for the botafumeiro to be used. The reply was absolutely positively no chance. So I decided that I would visit the cathedral museum the next day. While talking to one of the guards (who was telling me about the various treasure that get stolen from the museum) I turned to see two robed men carrying a botafumeiro, hanging from a pole balanced on their shoulders. I sputtered. Those poor men patiently waited for me to take a few pix. The guard told me there was a conference in town of lawyers and they had paid to have the incensor used. I used to wonder if maybe the arrangement was last minute and the person I spoke with initially had not lied to me, but of course the conference had had to be planned long before the Mass, and from what you say, Tom, so did the use of the botafumeiro. Perhaps they tell the employees not to say if there is something planned, and he was not fibbing but following protocol.
 

witsendwv

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
(2015)
Thank you to everyone for your comments. I closely followed the responses to my earlier posting and reflected on the issues. The responses by Tincatinker, t2andreo, and mspath had the greatest effect on me. I now realize that my original posting expressed thoughts coming from a tourist, not from a pilgrim. When I finally walk my camino (November? May?), I will happily attend mass without any expectation of seeing the botafumeiro in action. However, that being said, it must be awesome to see the ceremony in person. It may be spectacle, but it is a spectacle that has been going on for many hundreds of years. I watched several videos and found it all amazing. It's humbling to realize the botafumeiro ceremony is older than many countries. As much as I would like to see the ceremony, I understand how it can disrupt the sacredness of the mass. Placing the botafumeiro ceremony after the mass was a great idea. I even think that an occasional theatrical religious spectacle in all churches could be a good thing, as long as the ceremonies are thoughtful and closely linked to the mass, the church, the religious personages, and the devotees in attendance. Perhaps over the years and decades some of our bishops might get creative. (I have one idea, but this is not the place for it.) I hope the botafumeiro ceremony continues far into the future, either as a part of the mass or as its own separate ceremony. It would be sad to see this epic tradition come to a close. After all, is it necessarily bad to draw tourists into the cathedral? Might some of them have a religious experience? Might it renew the faith of someone?

One of the greatest strengths of Ivar's forum are the thoughtful and insightful comments by the experienced members in this and all threads. It's a pleasure to be a member.

Bob
While we did see the bota swing as described in my previous post and found it amazing, we actually saw it for the first time the previous year on our first Camino from Sarria. We had no clue, as Catholics we were just attending the pilgrim mass. To see the botafumeiro fly with no prior knowledge or warning was just the most profound experience. I do hope that you are able to see it in person, while all the videos are terrific, having it fly over my head to the ceiling left me in awe. (Although I do have to say that I was thinking about where to exit if the supports were to come crashing down, and actually ducked as it swung above us- this was before the repairs!) :)
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
My understanding is that the Church Authorities do not want to turn the Pilgrim's Mass into a paid 'spectacle'.

It's sad in a way to see the staff running around during a 'swinging' telling Pilgrims to put their phones away. They just want to record this amazing experience.

And yet it seems, if a Tour Group pays the 'fee' then it swings........

I have been lucky to see the Botafumeiro swing many times.
It is always a profound experience.

I'm not sure that filining it, or sponsoring it, degrades that experience for the Pilgrims present, or the Church......

But for the OP, it seems to swing more often than not these days, perhaps due to Tour Company sponsorship.

Afternote. If I had walked hundreds or thousands of kms to reach Santiago, and attended Mass with no swinging of the Botafumeiro, I would have gladly paid the e450, for this once in a lifetime experience for many people.
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Good observation. It makes sense, as one of the tiraboleiros has to shovel burning coals into it to start the fire. A lower position would help not burn the altar carpets. The coals are started in the outside cloister area, just off the sacristy. I will file it for verification next time I am there.

Thanks for the observation.

Tom
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Further to the earlier post by health and my reply, I just received a live field report from a good friend who arrived at Santiago this morning, and attended the Mass at 0930.

He found the Botafumeiro in the high, parked position, well clear of anyone walking under it. The direct report was that, immediately before use, after the closing blessing, the Tirabolieros lowered the Botafumeiro, inserted the burning coals and started the ceremony.

One imagines that they lowered it just prior to use. In any event, it must be lowered to be filled with the burning coals and for the Tiraboliero to give it the initial great shove to get the show started. The process remains the same, regardless of when it occurs.

So, it appears that the position of the Botafumeiro alone, is not an absolute indicator of future use. We are back to square one.

I think the take away is just go to the Mass for the spiritual benefits that provides. If you are fortunate, you will see the Botafumeiro live.

Otherwise, there is always You Tube. It got me through 18-months stuck at home, before I could get to Santiago for a few weeks last month.

Hope this helps.

Tom
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
1989
So if I want to pay to have it on my birthday where do I go and then do I have to stand in line to see it? I feel I only live once and I want it fir that day. No sarcastic remarks needed.
Others have commented about the cost and how to arrange. I understand that one has to arrange a few days in advance.

In terms of standing in line to see it: when I did the CP in 2018, I made sure to be quite early and got a good seat in the transept. But the even better seats in front were roped off as reserved just in front of where I was sitting. We were later told by the person organizing the people for whom the section was reserved that they had paid for the botafumeiro to be swung. So it seems that you won't have to stand in line or arrive early - choice seats will be saved for you.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Others have commented about the cost and how to arrange. I understand that one has to arrange a few days in advance.

In terms of standing in line to see it: when I did the CP in 2018, I made sure to be quite early and got a good seat in the transept. But the even better seats in front were roped off as reserved just in front of where I was sitting. We were later told by the person organizing the people for whom the section was reserved that they had paid for the botafumeiro to be swung. So it seems that you won't have to stand in line or arrive early - choice seats will be saved for you.
As they should be...good to hear.👍
 
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