Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
Ivar, were you able to deduce in what way entering the cathedral will be restricted? I assume that the Mass will still be held, but will only pilgrims be allowed in or is that there is some kind of security check point, or is just the number of people limited/restricted?
I think (I do not know) that you can not enter the cathedral between 11.30 and 13.00. I think there are security guards at the doors. I think they do it to keep the church service a bit quieter with less noise and "chaos".
Something similar was going on when I went to Sunday Mass at the cathedral a couple of weeks ago. Security people were scattered throughout the cathedral, making sure that the people coming in were there to attend the Mass, not to meet up with friends and have a wander around and shoot pictures and hug the apostle and then head out for a coffee. And as the place filled up with purported Mass attendees, these guards enforced it... people were expected to find a place and stay put throughout the ceremonies, or they were escorted out. The line was shut down for the undercroft and the relics and the statue-hug, even!
Rebekah, what you describe is what I have experienced at other cathedrals in Europe during Mass times, eg Notre Dame in Paris. They rigorously enforce that Mass time is for Mass, and not for tourists wandering and chatting and disturbing the prayertime of those attending Mass. I guess I was quite surprised when I reached Santiago last July that they weren't actually trying to enforce any kind of quiet and reverence for Mass.
There are a couple of ways of looking at this: One is the very secular nature of Spanish (and European) society these days, especially young people. Many are not raised in church-going families, and they do not know how to behave inside churches. Worship and respect for holiness are just not part of their world. They aren´t so much disrespectful -- just ignorant.
Historically speaking, the church was for centuries a center for socializing. It was pretty and cool inside, there were places to sit down and private corners where you could make deals and flirt and hide things. Dogs and cats wandered in and out, and vendors sold their candles and fruit and god-knows-what in the nave. Business went on whether or not a Mass was being said in one of the chapels or a body was being interred under the floorboards. (Images of these things abound, esp. in Dutch art from the 17th and 18th centuries.)
Even now, in Christian churches all over Eastern Europe and the Middle East, people wander around the church during services, lighting candles and (quietly) visiting one another while the Mass-goers just ignore them and bells clang overhead and babies cry. It´s just another part of living a day-to-day noisy Christian life. Worship is not a quiet time, set aside for quiet moments, because there aren´t very many of those.
Still, I don´t think it is too much to ask of the tourists (and rackety pilgrims) at Santiago Cathedral to chill out and be quiet for an hour on the bench and let others worship undisturbed. I´m glad they´re enforcing the Mass rules now.
I have seen these signs all over the world in churches. It is unfortunate that it is necessary to place guards in a place of worship because tourists think they can just wander around and chat and snap photos and make all sorts of racket with no regard for a holy ceremony.
As a Catholic who attends mass when traveling, I find it very annoying and ignorant to think that there are people who are actually are so disrespectful that they will snap photos or chat with friends while a mass is going on. AND I have seen them become indignant when they were asked to sit and be quiet or leave!! Very rude.
A church is a place of worship. And that should be honored by all who enter, especially during any type of mass or service.
One would think that was common sense.
I, like Rebekah am glad to see they are enforcing the mass rule.
It is strange how great Cathedrals (Chartres, Notre Dame, St. Peter's, St. Paul's, Santa Maria del Fiore, Notre Dame de Reims, the list goes on and on) evolve from being places of worship to cultural artifacts or even works of art. In reality they are both, but it really does need to be made clear to tourists that you are welcome to enter, but if a mass or any other service is in process you may only sit and be quiet. If they are not capable of doing so, they should be escorted to the door.
It is so strange how people can act this way. Worse, that they feel justified in doing so. When dealing with the public we should never be surprised at what we see or find.
I've never been a fan of tourists milling about churches during mass. If they want to get a peek at the church by stepping in and standing in the back, that is fine. Some churches that I have been to have a sign saying something like "during mass, tourists may not go beyond this sign."
Last April while attending the pilgrims' mass there were quite a few tourists/pilgrims walking around. I was horrified when two of them walked right up behind an older, local woman kneeling at the confessional. They stood there for a few seconds and leaned in over her shoulder to get a closer look. I couldn't believe it. If these new regulations prevent that sort of activity, then I'm all for it.