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Morning mass and the botafumeiro

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natefaith

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
2009, 2014, 2017
The line shouldn’t be long at that time (the sun is just barely up at that point :) ) but it’s not common to have it swing then. However, this being Holy Year, with the botafumeiro swinging more frequently in general, you never know!

The nice thing is you’ll have the Cathedral more to yourself. :) Buen Camino!
 

Lyndale

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances Aug(2013), Portuguese (2018) Le Puy (2019)
The line shouldn’t be long at that time (the sun is just barely up at that point :) ) but it’s not common to have it swing then. However, this being Holy Year, with the botafumeiro swinging more frequently in general, you never know!

The nice thing is you’ll have the Cathedral more to yourself. :) Buen Camino!
Thanks for the reply. We will be there mid September and will have 2 chances only to see it. I'm hoping it won't be so crowded that we will be able to get into the mass.
 

Lyndale

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances Aug(2013), Portuguese (2018) Le Puy (2019)
I don't remember specifically, as I don't care much if it swings or not. But why not go and find out for yourself? At the very least you will have joined in the worship, not a bad way to start the day.
Oh, we do plan on going. It would just add to the experience of the Camino.
 
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Momwiz

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese 2019
Wondering if anyone has EVER seen the botafumeiro swing at the 7:30 am mass and if the lines are long to get in at that time of morning? Thanks
Last fall, I went to the morning, noon, and evening masses and finally got to see the botafumeiro swing in the evening. Try to go to as many masses as you can to maximize your chance of seeing it. I hope you get to hear the sweet little nun sing at mass as well!
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
Wondering if anyone has EVER seen the botafumeiro swing at the 7:30 am mass and if the lines are long to get in at that time of morning? Thanks
Sorry I did not have time to dig into the site but the Cathedral site has a lot of essential information.
 
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LTfit

Veteran Member
It saw it swing last Sunday during the 12.00 Pilgrim's Mass. The line outside to get into the Cathedral was so long, it would have taken more than an hour to get in. I thought to myself "no way" then saw only a few people in line to go through La Porta Santa (which apparently only took you to the relics). When the guards weren't looking 5 of us ducked under the ropes to gain access to the main section of the Cathedral. It was already packed with people standing and sitting everywhere. My Argentinian walking companion was a bit peeved that "tourists" took all the seats leaving the "pilgrims" to stand.

It was announced that the Botafumeiro was paid for by an American family so if you really want to see it you can dish out €350.
 

Jodean

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
22 Sept. to 21 Oct. 2015, Pamplona to Santiago
6-23.04 Porto to Santiago 2018
17.09-30.09 CF 2018
It costs more than 350€ now. Last I read, it was 450€. Cost of incense and insurance.
Not sure if those guys get paid to help make it swing.
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
Not sure if those guys get paid to help make it swing.
The tiraboleiros are local men who are paid a small fee for their occasional botafumeiro services. A knowledgeable friend in Santiago tells me that they are members of cathedral staff with other jobs around the place.
 
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Jagdev D.

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April 2022
Thanks for the reply. We will be there mid September and will have 2 chances only to see it. I'm hoping it won't be so crowded that we will be able to get into the mass.
I complete my Camino walk in the first week of June this year, from SJPP, immensely uplifting , spiritually, very contented , went to the cathedral three days after, because wanted to see the BOTAFUMEIRO swinging, it was on my wishlist , to see , after the Camino ,but it did not swing, disappointed to say the least , but completing my Camino walk at 72 in 34 days was so overwhelming that it overshadow any disappointment ,
maybe some another day, God willing.
We all have own opinion about to see it swinging or not.
Wishing you the best of luck to see BOTAFUMEIRO swinging. Maybe you are the lucky one.
Cheers to all !
Buen Camino.
 

Hugh Larkin

Perpetual Wanderer
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2014
Sanabria 2018
Pieterpad 2018
Kumano Kodo (202??)
Just go and enjoy. 2 caminos, 4 mass attendance (2 were pilgrim mass), 3 swingings (very lucky!). The best (and last) was when the small nun sang most of the mass AND the botafumeiro swung.
 
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Jagdev D.

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April 2022
I understand someone has to pay or donate to have it swing so it depends on that factor.
I could be wrong, but my information on about to see BOTAFUMEIRO swinging, one has to pay 450 Euros about week in advance and you will get the time about when they will swing it, you get 10 reserved chairs to sit , watch and enjoy. Wish I had 450 Euros to spare , or anyone need one more person to pay his share and join the group, to watch the special spectacle . Cheers !
 

Jodean

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
22 Sept. to 21 Oct. 2015, Pamplona to Santiago
6-23.04 Porto to Santiago 2018
17.09-30.09 CF 2018
Tom, I just posted my own YouTube video of it. I was lucky enough to sit in the front row of an almost empty cathedral. I guess 09:30 mass is not very popular? Had a friend overhear a tour group leader tell someone else that their group was paying for it to swing the next morning.

Jagdev, I have seen this swing twice at evening masses, so that staff member was mistaken. Hopefully you get to see it in person on your next Camino.
 

Jagdev D.

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April 2022
Thank you all for the information. I will have 2 chances to hear the singing nun and and see the botafumeiro swing. Yes , I do feel the pilgrimage getting to Santiago is the most meaningful and spiritual but seeing the botafumerio fly would be the icing on the cake.
Lyndale,
you said it beautifully. Thank you 🙏🏻
Cheers !
🇨🇦
 

AidaYYC

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Camino Frances
In May, we saw it in the evening at 19:30 and again in the morning at the 09:30 mass. I was able to get a great video of it.
That is a great video of the Botafumeiro and you were at the right place to film it. Thank you for posting.
 

Jagdev D.

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April 2022
Tom, I just posted my own YouTube video of it. I was lucky enough to sit in the front row of an almost empty cathedral. I guess 09:30 mass is not very popular? Had a friend overhear a tour group leader tell someone else that their group was paying for it to swing the next morning.

Jagdev, I have seen this swing twice at evening masses, so that staff member was mistaken. Hopefully you get to see it in person on your next Camino.
Thank you Jodean ,
I’m determined to go back to Santiago from Malaga ( I go there for 6/8 weeks in winter) to see it in person
Even if I have to go as many times or stay inside the cathedral for every mass .. 😆 till the Botafumeiro swings .
Wishing you a good day ! 🇨🇦
 
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Jagdev D.

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April 2022
Tom, I just posted my own YouTube video of it. I was lucky enough to sit in the front row of an almost empty cathedral. I guess 09:30 mass is not very popular? Had a friend overhear a tour group leader tell someone else that their group was paying for it to swing the next morning.

Jagdev, I have seen this swing twice at evening masses, so that staff member was mistaken. Hopefully you get to see it in person on your next Camino.
Around what , .. how long ago ? ,.. was the last time you saw the BOTAFUMEIRO swinging at 7.30 pm mass ? I thought he was telling me honestly, because he also said that the those volunteers (nominal paid) have to be arranged to be there for the swing , etc,.. etc,..
he was the only working volunteer I could find who spoke (broken) English inside the cathedral And I was very appreciative him, taking few minutes to tell me that. But,…. !!! One never knows …
 

Jodean

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
22 Sept. to 21 Oct. 2015, Pamplona to Santiago
6-23.04 Porto to Santiago 2018
17.09-30.09 CF 2018
Jagdev, it was on 24 May, 2022.
 

GlasgowCamino

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Walking Camini Frances starting in May 22 👍
Thanks for the reply. We will be there mid September and will have 2 chances only to see it. I'm hoping it won't be so crowded that we will be able to get into the mass.
The trick is to go in for the tour earlier than mass starts then just sit down wherever you want.
 

Schamber

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May and June 2022
Thanks for the reply. We will be there mid September and will have 2 chances only to see it. I'm hoping it won't be so crowded that we will be able to get into the mass.
We went at 11am to get a seat for the 12pm mass. It was already crowded but we got seats. We were lucky and got to see it swing.
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
This post is corrected from my earlier version, to remove some erroneous information.

I read the entire thread with interest. These questions have all been answered many times over the years, in many threads. However, for those who are new to our merry band of pilgrims, here is a synopsis:

1. The Botafumeiro is a HUGE censer, used at the end of the Mass, after the final blessing has been given and the Mass is formally over. Back in the day, it was used in the beginning of the Mass, to purify the altar, and to offer all prayers up to Heaven.

Over the years, and most recently, the Celebrant - priest in charge of saying the Mass - would totally lose control over all the tourists jostling for the best position to video the Botafumeiro ceremony. This was not only highly disrespectful, it was distracting. TOP TIP: Query Botafumeiro Santiago de Compostela on You Tube and knock yourself out.

2. It takes eight laymen (Tiraboleiros) to stage and swing the Botafumeiro. It is heavy when empty, but when loaded with a flame breathing incense mix, it is not only heavy - but dangerous. As they are not priests, seminarians or religious brothers employed by the Cathedral, these eight men are paid a nominal fee, per use.

Traditionally, the honor of being a Tiraboleiro has been passed down from father to son over many generations.

Here is a handy link for learning everything there is to know about the Botafumeiro:


3. As the tiraboleiros must be paid, and the Botafumeiro does require care and upkeep, there are expenses incurred in using this device. As a rule, the Church covers the costs of using the Botafumeiro for all Catholic Holy Days and Solemnities. On all other days, someone must pay for the Botafumeiro to "fly."

Often a group, or even a single person, will want to ensure the Botafumeiro to be used at a Mass that they, their family, or group will attend. This is done by paid subscription. The Pilgrim Office handles these requests. When last I checked, the cost per use was €450. I might be wrong, but if I am off, it is not by much.

The email address to request or ask about paying to have the Botafumeiro used is: botafumeiro@catedraldesantiago.es

4. The takeaway here is that, if you are not attending a pilgrim Mass at the Cathedral, on a designated Holy Day or Solemnity on the Catholic calendar, seeing the Botafumeiro ceremony is largely hit and miss.

It is more likely over the summer months, especially in August, and less likely outside of peak pilgrim arrival times. August is when many Spanish and Portuguese groups take their summer holidays and walk a pilgrimage as a group. The odds are greater that one or another group might pay the subscription fee to ensure they get to see the Botafumeiro ceremony.

One indicator that the Botafumeiro will likely be used is if a large Catholic-affiliated group, club, association or even a government ministry (e.g. the Spanish military, intends to attend the Mass in a large group. In this situation, and as another indicator, the group will enjoy reserved seating up front, either in the center or in one of the side apses, with a clear view of the altar, Mass, and Botafumeiro ceremony.

5. Final point on this topic, even the staff at the Pilgrim Office does not know the Botafumeiro schedule. When working as a volunteer, I am regularly asked about this. However, ONLY the staff person making the subscription reservations and processing payments knows. That person has NEVER - like ever - in my eight years as a volunteer broken that trust.

6. Another TOP TIP: Sit in the southern or northern apse - not the center section. If the Botafumeiro is used, and you sit in the center of the Cathedral, you will only see the small portion of the arc that the Botafumeiro swings through. This is like observing something interesting whilst wearing blinders. However, if you sit in one of the apses, the Botafumeiro will swing over your head, and you can observe the full arc of swing.

7. As mentioned before, and as a final TOP TIP, view the Botafumeiro ceremony on You Tube. This said, and as a Cradle Catholic, I think everyone should see it in-person, at least once.

I do hope this all helps.

Ultreia!

Tom
 
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rgutena

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis?
When planning my Camino trip 2022, I was expecting that the botafumerio would be swung more often this year, being a Holy Year, especially in the 2 weeks before the Feast Day. I was surprised that it did not occur in any of the 5 masses (2 noons and 3 evenings) I attended in the past week. I wasn't aware it could be done in the morning mass and so have never tried.
6. Another TOP TIP: Sit in the southern or northern apse - not the center section. If the Botafumeiro is used, and you sit in the center of the Cathedral, you will only see the small portion of the arc that the Botafumeiro swings through. This is like observing something interesting whilst wearing blinders. However, if you sit in one of the apses, the Botafumeiro will swing over your head, and you can observe the full arc of swing.

Great tip indeed! I wish I knew this earlier. Over the last 2 weeks, I have been to 6 pilgrims masses and have only seen the botafumeiro being swung once. I didn’t see it in 2017 when I completed my last Camino and so I was very, very happy to finally see it after reaching Santiago again a couple of weeks ago. However, I didn’t find it that impressive because I was sitting in the centre of the cathedral and was quite far back. Frankly, I didn’t feel any of the magic that so many others have talked about. Hoping to understand why this is such a special thing to many, I attended 5 more pilgrims masses on the following 3 consecutive days, turning up at least an hour earlier each time to secure a good seat on either side (ie not in the centre facing the main altar), even though it meant that I was not able to see much of what was going on during the mass. Having invested 10+ hours of my time, sitting through many hours of sermons delivered in Spanish which I did not understand, I have not seen the botafumeiro being swung again. After all this investment and all the hype about the botafumeiro, I suspect that it will be a huge anticlimax if and when I do see it ‘properly’. I will probably not be able to resist the temptation to continue trying when I visit Santiago again in the future, but it does seem to have got a bit ridiculous and makes me question what the whole point of this ‘pursuit’ really is. Perhaps I should just accept that ‘Yes I have seen it and it wasn’t really that impressive’ and leave it at that.
 

Canche

Volcano Climber
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte/Frances 2016, San Salvador & Primitivo 2021
Thanks for the reply. We will be there mid September and will have 2 chances only to see it. I'm hoping it won't be so crowded that we will be able to get into the mass.
Just go early and get in line and you will get in.
 

Esauro57

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Pilgrim
I understand someone has to pay or donate to have it swing so it depends on that factor.
Correct 430 euros circa...but normally it WILL swing for free because today is the festivity of the Apostolo saint Jacobus el Major !!! Happy festivity to all pilgrims!! as he is our patron saint !!! Pls don't forget to pray near his tomb under the statue in the cathedral :-that is more important than seeing the botafumeiro swing!
 
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