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Disappointment in the cathedral

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amancio

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Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
I just came back from walking the Inglés, and it ended with a very sour aftertaste. My wife was not in great walking condition, and we only managed to make it to the pilgim's mass at 12:20 (we left Sigueiro at 7 and had to walk slowly because of her feet problems). We arrived in the cathedral and tried to go in for mass. there was a massive queue of tourists in Plaza de la Inmaculada, and as we tried to enter the temple, the security guard would not allow us to go in as pilgrims, and suggested we joined the queue as tourists. This is the first time I have been refused entry to the cathedral as church, every other time, if there were queues, pilgrims were allowed directly upon their arrival on foot, but he would not let us in, so we decided not to go in alltogether. Very disappointing, particulary because my wife had never seen the botafumeiro fly, and she missed it this time again.

All in all, Santiago is a nightmare with so many tourists, the queues in the Oficina del peregrino were quite discouraging too, so I eventually chose not to pick my Compostela, I really was not in the mood to do anything after being refused entrance to the Cathedral.

I understand there are massive crowds in Santiago these days, but security employees should also understand how a pilgrim feels upon arriving at the cathedral. A pity.
 
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I always walk into Santiago at 11am, plenty of time to get bed and shower, no queues at office and into cathedral for mass, in my time at cathedral security never allow back packs into cathedral and I never saw special queue for pilgrims, I think everybody are pilgrims whether they walked or not, pity your wife had problems with feet,
 
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There were 2,128 compostelas issued yesterday, so the number of pilgrims was the largest this year. It is more than just a crush of tourists! The following day is when your arrival is announced, so get to mass early and listen for your country.

It is hard for security to accommodate everyone. Some group paid for the botafumeiro to swing, so that group also felt entitled to special treatment, as did your 2,126 fellow pilgrims. Security does the best it can, but sometimes it results in disappointment. Anyone arriving after 11 a.m. probably could not get a seat, so keep that in mind.

The botafumeiro can swing at any mass, so check back for the evening masses and morning masses. There are even late masses at 8 or 9 p.m. for special groups, and the botafumeiro can swing at them, too.
 

amancio

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I arrived on Thursday, and I wonder how many compostelas were issued that day, it was something else (plus all pilgrims who chose not to spend a long time in a queue). Two or three years ago, on a Holy Year, pilgrims were allowed free entrance through the doors in Plaza de Inmaculada, but that honorable tradition seems to have been lost. As to the Portico de la Gloria... it is closed for viewing, but it is ok to see it if you pay. All in all, a very disappointing arrival in Santiago - I warned my wife there would be crowds, but this was something else.

Not the fault of people in the Oficina del peregrino at all, but a more sympathetic approach to tired injured pilgrims would be most appreciated.
 
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I have been putting it on the Camino de Santiago Calendar. It also can be found at the Pilgrim Office website.
 
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tyrrek

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I always walk into Santiago at 11am, plenty of time to get bed and shower, no queues at office and into cathedral for mass, in my time at cathedral security never allow back packs into cathedral...
I've taken my backpack into the cathedral when I arrived in Santiago and nobody stopped me. I wouldn't like to have to check into a hotel etc before finishing my pilgrimage.
 

brawblether

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
June/Jul 2012; Feb 2014
and as we tried to enter the temple,
...I'm sorry, what did you just call it?


Two or three years ago, on a Holy Year, pilgrims were allowed free entrance through the doors in Plaza de Inmaculada, but that honorable tradition seems to have been lost.
It hasn't been lost at all. As you said, it was open in the Holy Year. A Holy Year (when the feast of St James falls on a Sunday) is the only time the Porta Santa (Holy door) is open.

Not the fault of people in the Oficina del peregrino at all, but a more sympathetic approach to tired injured pilgrims would be most appreciated.
A Catholic church is open to all, it isn't governed by the Pilgrim's Office like a tourist attraction, and this seems to be the crux of your problem, you aren't seeing it the right way. You weren't refused entry when you arrived, you were asked to join the queue. At 12.20 you had effectively missed Mass anyway (and, as pointed out by Falcon, the day for your Mass as a pilgrim is the following one when your arrival is announced). One does not go to Mass to see the theatrics of a giant thurible (incensor) but to give thanks and praise to God. One doesn't walk in pilgrimage to St James to fall at his knees in front of an 80kg piece of swinging metal either, one walks in pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle James, which is at the heart of the Cathedral.

Rest assured as a pilgrim you ARE special, but you this doesn't come with a demanded sense of entitlement but rather with humility.
 
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Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
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If you're not seated in a pew at the Cathedral in Santiago by 1100-1115, you will be standing, especially if they are swinging the botufumerio that day, if it is crowded, they stop letting people in right when the mass starts, pilgrim or tourist, it doesn't matter. Most come in after the 0930 mass ends and take their seats and wait an hour for mass to start, unfortunate, but it is what is.
 

Kiwi-family

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Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
Boy oh boy I didn't realise just how fortunate we were. We wandered in just before 12, all eleven of us and found seats almost together right under the botufumerio. Maybe that's the difference between August and the end of September.
We had arrived at the pilgrim's office the morning we went to our first mass and definitely heard our group mentioned that day. We went back the next day too because the kids were begging to return before the service had even finished!
OP, it's a pity your experience was so disappointing for you.
 
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JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Hola. As has been said Santiago is very busy at the moment. Record numbers of walking pilgrims are arriving plus the usual influx of pilgrims who arrive by bus and then tourists.

The BBC has been making a documentary about the Pilgrimage and telephoned me last week to check the exact number of people the Cathedral holds...the answer was 995. So this is a 1000 capacity church and therefore regularly in these days the doors haven been closed and a queue formed when that capacity is reached.

Although the traditional Pilgrims' Mass remains at 12 noon each day at the 7.30 mass each evening a list of the Pilgrims who have arrived since 11am that morning is also read out. Routinely at every Mass at the High Altar a new Pilgrim Blessing is used at the end.

There have been a number of comments recently about the security arrangements and the attitude of the security guards. I hear them every day and although I think they could be more welcoming they have a very difficult job to do. For them it is impossible to discriminate between pilgrims and tourists and of course we should remember that many people arriving by car or coach are also pilgrims.

In terms of queues at the Pilgrims Office the waiting times have been reduced dramatically from the several hours wait on the old stone staircase at 1 Rua do Vilar to around an hour at peak times nowadays.

In the next few days the Pilgrims' Office will move downstairs to a new location at the same address - it has an entrance in the courtyard and an exit at the other end to ease the flow of pilgrims. It will be much better.

For the record. The web address of the Pilgrims' Office where the daily, monthly and annual statistics are given is:

http://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/

The web address of the cathedral of Santiago is:

http://www.catedraldesantiago.es/

Regards

John
 

piogaw

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Camino frances (05/06 2012) sjpdp-sdc; vdlp/camino sanabrea (02/03 2013) sevilla-sdc; hospitalero sdc june 2013, august-september 2013; caminho portugues (03 2014) lisboa-sdc
Hello amancio,

I am sorry you felt disappointed during your camino into santiago. I sympathised with your predicaments, but there are a few points i like to point out to you.

First of all, everyone who enters the cathedral is a pilgrim. There is no distinction as to whether you are a pilgrim who has walked the camino or you are a tourist who took a bus trip to visit the tomb of saint james. I have seemed the long queue many many times by the side door on plaza immaculada. When the cathedral is full, there is usually a queue by the side door. I have never seen a pilgrim with a backpack who has priority to enter the cathedral before anyone else.
Also you were not refused entry to the cathedral.

You said you arrived with your wife on a thursday, you could have gone to the friday evening mass to see the swinging of the botafumeiro. The botafumeiro ceremony is included in the evening mass every friday.

The staff and the amigos volunteers work very hard to try to accomodate all the pilgrims waiting for their compostela. During the height of the camino which is now, there are usually at east 1200 pilgrims a day queueing to get their compostelas. During the midday mass, the pilgrim office normally does not have a queue, this is probably the best time to take up the compostela.

Of course everyone who makes the pilgrimage to santiago de compostela is special, but i believe we are not entitled to special treatments or considerations.
 
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amancio

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Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
First of all, thanks to you all for sharing your view about the issue. Maybe I was expecting to receive the same treatment pilgrims received last time I was in Santiago, when pilgrims had no problem to access the cathedral (temple is a synonym I used earlier) through side doors in Plaza de la Inmaculada, opposite the Seminario Menor. I was expecting it would be like that, so I was very disappointed because I was looking forward to arriving and entering the cathedral inmediately, as I did last time.

This said, Santiago in August can be a bit of a nightmare, I can imagine the workload in the oficina del peregrino is huge, and they must be working very hard. But it would also be a good idea to tell the security guards that pilgrims arriving on foot should indeed have some priority, since they have been walking for hours and are exhausted and just try to make it on time to mass. Also, the guard did let in another pilgrim (gorgeous looking girl) right in front of our eyes, which did not contribute to make us any happier.

Some pilgrims like arriving very early in Santiago, have a shower and go to the cathedral smelling of eau de cologne, nicely rested. I am exactly the opposite, I like arriving tired, preferably in the afternoon/evening, and go straight into the cool cathedral to reflect on my pilgrimage or attend mass. This time, it was not possible, while I assumed it would be.

Anyway, amigos, end of topic/discussion, thanks for your contributions to this discussion!
 

CaminoGen

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Anancio,

So sorry to hear the Cathedral and Santiago did not live up to your requirements.
 
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johnsondav

New Member
Past OR future Camino
June 2014
...I'm sorry, what did you just call it?



It hasn't been lost at all. As you said, it was open in the Holy Year. A Holy Year (when the feast of St James falls on a Sunday) is the only time the Porta Santa (Holy door) is open.


A Catholic church is open to all, it isn't governed by the Pilgrim's Office like a tourist attraction, and this seems to be the crux of your problem, you aren't seeing it the right way. You weren't refused entry when you arrived, you were asked to join the queue. At 12.20 you had effectively missed Mass anyway (and, as pointed out by Falcon, the day for your Mass as a pilgrim is the following one when your arrival is announced). One does not go to Mass to see the theatrics of a giant thurible (incensor) but to give thanks and praise to God. One doesn't walk in pilgrimage to St James to fall at his knees in front of an 80kg piece of swinging metal either, one walks in pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle James, which is at the heart of the Cathedral.

Rest assured as a pilgrim you ARE special, but you this doesn't come with a demanded sense of entitlement but rather with humility.

Thanks for the reminder. This is a religious service not a performance. Catholic or not it's a time of Thanksgiving to God. The very name of the Mass - the Eucharist is from the Greek word for "Thanksgiving" (Eucharistia)
 
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Simon

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2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019
We had a similar experience last Saturday (October 5th) which upset a couple of my friends, one of whom has completed the Camino in 5 stages over five years and for whom, in some physical pain, the longed-for arrival was much anticipated. His tears of joy were turned to tears of frustration as he and another friend who had walked from SJPP for his 60th birthday, were turned away by the people in hi-vis jackets at 11.50am. I was last in Santiago in 2006 and while I understand that the number of tourists and peregrinos have increased significantly over the years, I found the cathedral to be a much less welcoming place to pilgrims. I was saddened to not be able to enter by the main doors now and to have to pay to even look at the Portico da Gloria, let alone pray there.
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
We had a similar experience last Saturday (October 5th) which upset a couple of my friends, one of whom has completed the Camino in 5 stages over five years and for whom, in some physical pain, the longed-for arrival was much anticipated. His tears of joy were turned to tears of frustration as he and another friend who had walked from SJPP for his 60th birthday, were turned away by the people in hi-vis jackets at 11.50am. I was last in Santiago in 2006 and while I understand that the number of tourists and peregrinos have increased significantly over the years, I found the cathedral to be a much less welcoming place to pilgrims. I was saddened to not be able to enter by the main doors now and to have to pay to even look at the Portico da Gloria, let alone pray there.

Dear Simon,

I perfectly understand how it feels, I am sorry about what happened to your friends. Santiago is taking a turn that I particularly do not like, blocking the Portico de la Gloria for restoration is something I can understand, but make it available to see if you are willing to pay some money...
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
blocking the Portico de la Gloria for restoration is something I can understand, but make it available to see if you are willing to pay some money...
I went on a 'tour' of the Portico de la Gloria last year. It was not an actual physical tour- it was a multimedia presentation. I am not sure I even had to pay for this- just had to book it at a time when English was shown.
Margaret
 

amancio

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Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
This year it would be an actual physical tour, it is all covered with scaffolds, but it seems that if you wave a few notes, you can go into the works and see it. Very nice indeed. Kia ora!
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
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Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
Unfortunately any kind of repairs whether on the cathedral or your own home can´t be carried out without money. This is a good way of financing it in part. If you want to see it ......... great , pay the price. If you just want to enter and worship, no need to pay just enter.

I recall this practice came as quite a shock to me, on my first trip to Europe - in the UK, in the mid-1970's. In North America, we aren't accustomed to paying to enter a church. But then, our churches aren't 600-years-old works of art and priceless historical monuments. Nor are they major tourism destinations with thousands of visitors a day. Even in those European countries where there is financial support to organized religion in the national budget, there are limits to the resources available, and many buildings in needs of maintenance and conservation. Remember that the attendance in European churches has drastically reduced in recent decades (in comparison to US figures), so the parish does not have the same revenue stream of private funds. So if the parishioners can't cover all the expense, and the government is only contributing a small bit, it makes perfect sense to me that the church needs to charge a fee to visitors - regardless of how they structure that.

(I'm stating the general case here for discussion purposes. I'm well aware that many small parishes in the US struggle with their finances, have difficulty maintaining their facilities, and scrimp to fund adequate staff. )
 
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William Marques

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It is a curious thing that in the UK museums and art galleries are free to enter but cathedrals often make tourists pay. Though I know in Canterbury that pilgrims and worshippers entry freely and I expect this is true of the other cathedrals which charge.
 
M

MendiWalker

Guest
I recall this practice came as quite a shock to me, on my first trip to Europe - in the UK, in the mid-1970's. In North America, we aren't accustomed to paying to enter a church. But then, our churches aren't 600-years-old works of art and priceless historical monuments. Nor are they major tourism destinations with thousands of visitors a day. Even in those European countries where there is financial support to organized religion in the national budget, there are limits to the resources available, and many buildings in needs of maintenance and conservation. Remember that the attendance in European churches has drastically reduced in recent decades (in comparison to US figures), so the parish does not have the same revenue stream of private funds. So if the parishioners can't cover all the expense, and the government is only contributing a small bit, it makes perfect sense to me that the church needs to charge a fee to visitors - regardless of how they structure that.

(I'm stating the general case here for discussion purposes. I'm well aware that many small parishes in the US struggle with their finances, have difficulty maintaining their facilities, and scrimp to fund adequate staff. )

In Spain no one has to pay to enter a church new or old. In some old ones they do charge to visit it as a tourist but if it´s for religious reasons you get in free.

In Cordoba entrance is free in the morning because there is mass but once the mass is over it becomes a tourist attraction so from 10 am you have to pay.

In museums all around the world visitors have to pay except in the Smithsonian Institute ( 19 museums ) which is my hometown , D.C.

Buen Camino!
 
M

MendiWalker

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It is a curious thing that in the UK museums and art galleries are free to enter but cathedrals often make tourists pay. Though I know in Canterbury that pilgrims and worshippers entry freely and I expect this is true of the other cathedrals which charge.

In the UK they ask for a "Donation" which turns out many a time to be forced.:(

Buen Camino!
 
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Deleted member 3000

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Entry to the cathedral in Santiago is free. The portico is under renovation, and is covered with scaffolding. Tours using the scaffolding are available at a charge. To the extent that people can gaze through the scaffolding, the view is free.

The cathedral in Leon charges for admission.
 
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mspath

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The cathedral in Leon charges for admission.

So does the Burgos cathedral charge a general admission. However, one chapel entered via the southern door on the west facade is kept freely open for meditation and prayer.

MM
 

Sharni

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I was in the SDC Cathedral in May 2013 and the Portico was covered with scaffolding which you could peer through to some extent (as Falcon has said). However I didn't mind this as there was very detailed and descriptive (full-sized??) boards covering the scaffolding that had the images of the Portico on it with the description of who everyone was on it etc. I found that very interesting as otherwise I would have just looked and not understood or known all of the details and moved on. As the Portico is covered/view impaired for restoration purposes I don't mind so much. I was not aware of any tours/charges - maybe they are available from the museum section (which I highly recommend). The whole Cathedral has beautiful sections if you take the time to look
 

StuartM

Active Member
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Camino Frances (2012)
In the UK they ask for a "Donation" which turns out many a time to be forced.:(

Buen Camino!

We also have something called chancel repair liability. The church used to own massive amounts of land and if you buy a house that was built on that land then there is a possibility that you can become liable for the cost of repairs to the local church. There are people that have had £25000 bills dropped on them out of the blue.

How's that for a modern legal system!
 
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Wanderer64

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I think many overlook the fact that the Church is as much a business as it is a religion. Entry fees are likely an important, needed revenue source for individual dioceses needing to upkeep historic monuments. Whether the Vatican's billions in worldwide holdings, or whether individual dioceses books are truly accessible and transparent to the public is a completely different thread, probably better debated on a non-Camino forum.

I paid a modest fee to tour the Burgos cathedral, and that included an excellent audio guide. Value wise, as good as any museum I've visited in Spain. But I can surely appreciate why some of faith might be irked by such a fee, especially if they are just passing through and may not have a chance to attend a service.
 
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You can attend a service at the Leon cathedral without paying the entry fee. Just join the line on the left when it opens for the mass, which will be in one of the chapels, not the main nave.
 
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Wanderer64

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Falcon is right about the Leon cathedral. I arrived at the gates fully expecting to pay a fee but accidentally got swept in for free by the Sunday service crowd. A case of good timing on my part. When I came out about 20 minutes later I saw angry people arguing with the security guard about being denied entry. I guess they had missed the cutoff time for the service.
 

Simon

Member
Past OR future Camino
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I entirely understand the need to fund the repairs and upkeep of an ancient building like this, and the larger cathedrals in the UK charge for entry - though generally if you state you are going in to pray they will let you through the turnstiles, and of course you don't pay to go to a worship service. However, it felt a lot different and less 'pilgrim-friendly' this time in Santiago Cathedral to my last visit, which was admittedly seven years ago.
The short note at the bottom of this page on the Left Luggage Office for Pilgrims website, gives a pointer to how arriving pilgrims with packs and sticks can expect to be treated at the cathedral from January 1st 2014 - and this probably needs some publicity:
http://www.consignaperegrino.com/index.php?idMenu=10&idIdioma=3
 

vicrev

Active Member
Just read it,maybe sounds a bit harsh, bottom line is it their church,their country,we are only visitors,they can do as they seem fit, all religions,countries have laws, restrictions, that we sometimes disagree with,that's just the way it is........:).......Vicrev
 

piogaw

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signs have already been posted outside the gates to the cathedral that it is not recommended for rucksacks, big packages and big items to be brought into the cathedral. peregrinos with rucksacks are asked to place their rucksacks to the sides of the inner walls of the cathedral.

i am not aware of any future restriction as posted by consigna. remember consigna is a private for profit company. maybe they know something that we don't or maybe they are trying to drum up some business.
 
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TerryB

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We also have something called chancel repair liability. The church used to own massive amounts of land and if you buy a house that was built on that land then there is a possibility that you can become liable for the cost of repairs to the local church. There are people that have had £25000 bills dropped on them out of the blue.

How's that for a modern legal system!

Off topic but just to clarify the above in case someone is thinking of buying a house in the UK ;)
The only time that a householder becomes liable for 'Chancel Repair' is when they own the property to which Lay Rector's rights are attached. These are very few and far between and are not simply houses built on Glebe land. It is not the modern legal system which is at fault but church history going back to medieval times when the Lay Rector (usually the Lord of the Manor) claimed the Tithes from the farmers and property owners. He was rightly expected to spend some of his unearned income on the parish church. The tithes have now been completely abolished! However the liability for Chancel repair was not changed.
Anyone buying a former manor house in the U.K. is well advised to have a solicitor who knows these things, and can institute an effective search before the property is bought.
You have been warned :eek:

Tio Tel
Retired parish priest and one time Rural Dean in the good old CofE
P.S. I am totally against ANY charges for ANYONE to enter a house of prayer of ANY denomination.
 
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Ab Aberson

New Member
I just came back from walking the Inglés, and it ended with a very sour aftertaste. My wife was not in great walking condition, and we only managed to make it to the pilgim's mass at 12:20 (we left Sigueiro at 7 and had to walk slowly because of her feet problems). We arrived in the cathedral and tried to go in for mass. there was a massive queue of tourists in Plaza de la Inmaculada, and as we tried to enter the temple, the security guard would not allow us to go in as pilgrims, and suggested we joined the queue as tourists. This is the first time I have been refused entry to the cathedral as church, every other time, if there were queues, pilgrims were allowed directly upon their arrival on foot, but he would not let us in, so we decided not to go in alltogether. Very disappointing, particulary because my wife had never seen the botafumeiro fly, and she missed it this time again.

All in all, Santiago is a nightmare with so many tourists, the queues in the Oficina del peregrino were quite discouraging too, so I eventually chose not to pick my Compostela, I really was not in the mood to do anything after being refused entrance to the Cathedral.

I understand there are massive crowds in Santiago these days, but security employees should also understand how a pilgrim feels upon arriving at the cathedral. A pity.


This year we saw it two times. And I spoke friends who never saw this. So I uploaded this for them.
 
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