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Will I get to see the Botafumiero?

Camo

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2024
In The Way the Botafumiero was my highlight but I now read it only gets swung on special holy days. Is that true and I have plan my whole pilgrim trip around one of those days?
 
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It swings on specific holy days (schedule on the cathedral’s website) and when sponsored by someone. The latter is not announced in advance so you’ll only know when Mass is ending by the presence of the crew that swings it.
 
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Outside of about a dozen specific holy days, it's by paid subscription and you might get lucky. Or, if you want to be guaranteed, you can book and pay for it yourself (or together with friends) and get reserved seating.

But it's not swinging anywhere for now, it's been out of action for more than two months and remedial work is ongoing...
 
I was wondering about this. Does it tend to swing more during busy times (I'm thinking the August holidays) by fact that here are more tour groups around?

We need a Botafumiero swinging graph - who will volunteer?
 
It is not just tour groups who pay. It is also groups from parishes and even individual pilgrims. Occasionally forum members announce that they have arranged for the Botafumeiro to swing.

On the special days of the year when the Botafumeiro swings as part of the liturgy, it swings before mass, and on the other occasions at the end of mass.

During a number of years, it swung at every mass on Friday evening at 19:30 because it was sponsored by the hospitality sector of Santiago but this is no longer the case.
 
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From the Cathedral’s website: The Botafumeiro can also operate for pilgrimages that have duly requested it from the Cathedral. To reserve the Botafumeiro write an email to: botafumeiro@catedraldesantiago.es.

So if anyone has indeed planned “their whole pilgrim trip around one of those days” they will see it swing unless there are repairs as it is currently the case. Those who have observed the broadcast of mass on those special occasions will have seen how numerous people leave the cathedral as soon as the procession and the swinging ends and the special Solemn Mass begins.

http://catedraldesantiago.es/liturgy/ has more details than http://catedraldesantiago.es/en/liturgy/.
 
From the Cathedral’s website: The Botafumeiro can also operate for pilgrimages that have duly requested it from the Cathedral. To reserve the Botafumeiro write an email to: botafumeiro@catedraldesantiago.es.

So if anyone has indeed planned “their whole pilgrim trip around one of those days” they will see it swing unless there are repairs as it is currently the case. Those who have observed the broadcast of mass on those special occasions will have seen how numerous people leave the cathedral as soon as the procession and the swinging ends and the special Solemn Mass begins.

http://catedraldesantiago.es/liturgy/ has more details than http://catedraldesantiago.es/en/liturgy/.
Thanks for all your replies and to this one I would respectfully add that it is not just an email but 450 euros (or so) - the "fuel" alone apparently costs the church 300 euro so someone has to foot the bill. Then there are wages for the 10 "swinger blokes".

But what I really loved in the movie was Emilio as a debut director doing his "obligatory Hitchcock nod" and including himself in the movie but in a most skillful way as his BODY but a few remnants in a box of ASHES (held by his father) but his SOUL actually taking part in the ritual, essentially THANKING his father for his considerable efforts against great odds (and oddballs). I think Hitchcock would have applauded vociferously.
 
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@Camo, it is obvious that you like to talk about movies and movie characters. ☺️

Forum members are mostly interested in the realities of their walk. So to prevent any misunderstandings: Emilio Estevez was allowed to be one of the tiraboleiros who pull the rope for the Botafumeiro but that was a huge exception made for the movie makers. Neither fictional pilgrim ghosts nor actual pilgrims themselves are ever allowed to do that. It is people working for the Cathedral and in particular for the Oficina del Peregrino who have a function as tiraboleiro.

Your numbers are not correct btw but it does not matter.
 
- the "fuel" alone apparently costs the church 300 euro so someone has to foot the bill.
Not true. The firebowl inside the botafumeiro is quite small - smaller than an ordinary home barbecue. The cost for the charcoal would be negligible. And as our forum member @timr explained some time ago the amount of incense used is also quite small - not much more than might be used in any typical church service. The swinging of the botafumeiro only lasts a few minutes and a large amount of incense is unnecessary for the effect.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
It's kind of Pot luck.
At the end of one Camino I saw it three times.
Last year, not all.

Tour groups frequently 'pay' to see it swing, so that increases your odds.
That’s how we got to see it. A tour group had paid.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
In The Way the Botafumiero was my highlight but I now read it only gets swung on special holy days. Is that true and I have plan my whole pilgrim trip around one of those days?
I think, I read not too long ago, that the Botafumiero is currently being dismantled and everything is being overhauled. However, current pilgrims can certainly provide information about this.
 
A friend who lives in Santiago sent me a photo within the last week showing the support frame for the rope with the pulley mechanism removed. No idea when it will be restored and back in use. I assume that the cathedral will want it back working as soon as possible with Easter services approaching. Not to mention the fundraising aspect when private groups pay for its use.
 
I was wondering about this. Does it tend to swing more during busy times (I'm thinking the August holidays) by fact that here are more tour groups around?

We need a Botafumiero swinging graph - who will volunteer?
Yes, the Botafumeiro DOES get used more over the summer. This is simply because there are more groups arriving over the summer, who want to see the ceremony, and who are willing to pay the €450 (?) contribution, to employ the eight Tiraboleiros, to conduct the ceremony. So, while it is still a matter of luck, the odds of encountering a day and Mass where some group paid to have the Botafumeiro used increase.

No, there is no way to know this in advance. The officials who handle this reservation process are as tight-lipped as a priest in the confessional.

This said, I have observed that Fridays are a high-subscription day for arriving groups. Just sayin. I have worked as a volunteer since 2014, usually covering the weeks before and after the 25 July Feast of Santiago.

We volunteer workers, do not have any idea the botafumeiro is being used until several of the Pilgrim Office staff absent themselves from their office duties about 12:15 to head for the cathedral. That equates to a 30 minute warning. That is as advance as it gets.

Hope this helps.

Tom
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
On a related note - has anyone ever seen the one at Navarrete swinging?
No, but I’ve seen them swing in Catholic Churches throughout the world, albeit much much smaller and simply in the hands of a priest during Mass! It always brings back very found memories of Santiago…
 
Yes, the Botafumeiro DOES get used more over the summer. This is simply because there are more groups arriving over the summer, who want to see the ceremony, and who are willing to pay the €450 (?) contribution, to employ the eight Tiraboleiros, to conduct the ceremony. So, while it is still a matter of luck, the odds of encountering a day and Mass where some group paid to have the Botafumeiro used increase.

No, there is no way to know this in advance. The officials who handle this reservation process are as tight-lipped as a priest in the confessional.

This said, I have observed that Fridays are a high-subscription day for arriving groups. Just sayin. I have worked as a volunteer since 2014, usually covering the weeks before and after the 25 July Feast of Santiago.

We volunteer workers, do not have any idea the botafumeiro is being used until several of the Pilgrim Office staff absent themselves from their office duties about 12:15 to head for the cathedral. That equates to a 30 minute warning. That is as advance as it gets.

Hope this helps.

Tom
Thank you Tom! I'll be arriving in Santiago de C in August with my godson, so would love for him to have a good chance of seeing it in action.
 
No, but I’ve seen them swing in Catholic Churches throughout the world, albeit much much smaller and simply in the hands of a priest during Mass! It always brings back very found memories of Santiago…
The one in Naverrete was certainly no hand job. . .

20231001_172624~2-2.jpg
 
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@Camo, you asked three questions:
  • Will I get to see the botafumiero? You have repeatedly claimed in posts in other threads that you are not able to undertake a pilgrimage, but if you are travelling to Santiago to Compostela for other reasons, you might.
  • Is it true that it it only gets swung on special holy days? No. It does, but these are not the only times. You have many answers to that question.
  • Do I have to plan my whole pilgrim trip around one of those days? I am assuming that this has an unstated condition that you want to see the botafumerio in action. The answer for those forum members who are planning their pilgrimage is of course you don't. While attending mass might be one of the traditional pilgrim observances on arrival to Santiago, there is no special significance attached to attending one where the botafumeiro is used as far as I can tell.
If your sole interest is understanding the plot lines and literary and cinematographic references of a fictional pilgrimage, then deference is also due to L Frank Baum and Jack Hitt who wrote the original works around which one of the Estevez family stories has been framed.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

@Camo, you asked three questions:
  • Will I get to see the botafumiero? You have repeatedly claimed in posts in other threads that you are not able to undertake a pilgrimage, but if you are travelling to Santiago to Compostela for other reasons, you might.
  • Is it true that it it only gets swung on special holy days? No. It does, but these are not the only times. You have many answers to that question.
  • Do I have to plan my whole pilgrim trip around one of those days? I am assuming that this has an unstated condition that you want to see the botafumerio in action. The answer for those forum members who are planning their pilgrimage is of course you don't. While attending mass might be one of the traditional pilgrim observances on arrival to Santiago, there is no special significance attached to attending one where the botafumeiro is used as far as I can tell.
If your sole interest is understanding the plot lines and literary and cinematographic references of a fictional pilgrimage, then deference is also due to L Frank Baum and Jack Hitt who wrote the original works around which one of the Estevez family stories has been framed.
Yes I agree doug that thanks are due to all those that answered my questions.:)
 
At the Pilgrim Mass, for 2 days after my Camino that was completed in November, I was happy to witness the swinging of the Bota
 
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You can always simply avoid the hassle of a journey and just search for "Botafumeiro, Santiago de Compostela" on You Tube. Watch on the largest screen you can manage, and turn up the sound.

Absent the live music and enormous organ, packed crowds, the excitement in the air, the sense of history, continuity and holiness, as well as the smell of incense, there is nothing special about this near-thousand year old ceremony.

You COULD choose to simply watch this vicariously and save all that pesky time, expense, and effort.

Just sayin.
 
You can always simply avoid the hassle of a journey and just search for "Botafumeiro, Santiago de Compostela" on You Tube. Watch on the largest screen you can manage, and turn up the sound.

Absent the live music and enormous organ, packed crowds, the excitement in the air, the sense of history, continuity and holiness, as well as the smell of incense, there is nothing special about this near-thousand year old ceremony.

You COULD choose to simply watch this vicariously and save all that pesky time, expense, and effort.

Just sayin.
Or better still - Ivar could start selling a "Create your own Botafumeiro in your lounge" kit (obviously with required risk disclaimers). Then you could invite all your friends round for a swingers party.
 
Or better still - Ivar could start selling a "Create your own Botafumeiro in your lounge" kit (obviously with required risk disclaimers). Then you could invite all your friends round for a swingers party.
Summer 1989. I was the guide in Iona Abbey for a few weeks. The job also involved setting up for services. Someone asked for the church to be filled with incense before the service - so the scent would be lingering in the air as people arrived. The abbey was mostly rebuilt by Presbyterians and unsurprisingly didn't actually own a thurible. My assistant (who also happens to be my oldest and closest friend) and I tried to improvise one with a baked bean can and copper wire with limited success. So I sent Andy off to borrow a real one from the nearby Episcopalian retreat house. They were very helpful and turned out in force to watch it being used that night! :)
 
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The Cathedral asks those attending not to take photos of the Botafumiero as it's not to be treated as a tourist spectacle. I've been there twice when this announcement was made, spoken quite fast in Spanish and English, and it wasn't easy to pick it up.
 
  • Will I get to see the Botafumeiro - Yes (short of it being down for already mentioned Mintenance, it is very nicely hangs from the ceiling every single day quite in a view of everyone who enters the Cathedral)
  • Will I see it swing - depends (also as per all replies above) but the ABSOLUTE way to ASSURE it is to cough up the pre-requisite €450.00 and then do your darn best to make sure that you are in SdC on that day
  • Will I get to see Emilio Estevez swing a rope - most likely not, but Lord does work in Mysterious Ways so who knows
  • Will I get to see Daniel Every swing a rope - err...on one hand I would hope not (that would make for some serious Camino mirage or they did overload on the incense), but Lord does work in Mysterious Ways so who knows
so as another fictional character said - "And there you have it"
😇
 
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  • Will I get to see Emilio Estevez swing a rope - most likely not, but Lord does work in Mysterious Ways so who knows
  • Will I get to see Daniel Every swing a rope - err...on one hand I would hope (that would make for some serious Camino mirage or they did overload on the incense), but Lord does work in Mysterious Ways so who knows
There was a spoof news item which went viral a few years ago which might offer a partial explanation of that...

 
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The Cathedral asks those attending not to take photos of the Botafumiero as it's not to be treated as a tourist spectacle. I've been there twice when this announcement was made, spoken quite fast in Spanish and English, and it wasn't easy to pick it up.
I remember being in the cathedral hearing the very same request and later in the service seeing one of the visiting priests on the dais whip out a phone and start recording.
 
We’ve discussed this controversial issue before. I’ve watched numerous broadcasts of the pilgrim mass. I have never heard that an announcement said that no photos or videos of the Botafumeiro must be taken. There is an announcement before mass where people are reminded that the use of cameras is not allowed during mass. At the end of mass it is announced that the Botafumeiro is going to swing (on those occasions where it had been booked) and sometimes it is also announced that people should remain seated for safety reasons.

Like @David Tallan says, occasionally one of the visiting concelebrants (who assist at the mass) discreetly holds up a mobile phone to record the Botafumeiro in operation, and once the Cathedral priest even took the photo of the visiting priest who helps with putting incense into the Botafumeiro just before it started swinging.
 
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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
From searching earlier threads: In 2022 and 2023, the contribution required for a flight of the Botafumeiro was €500, and, by way of an example, it swung more than 40 times in May 2022. Which means, on average, at least once per day.

In recent years, the requests have been frequent during the pilgrimage season.

@Camo, are you at all familiar with the search functions of the forum?
 
I remember being in the cathedral hearing the very same request and later in the service seeing one of the visiting priests on the dais whip out a phone and start recording.
One of my favourite photos I've taken in the cathedral:
1709380122598.png1709380303400.png
 
It seems the answer is 'maybe.'
When I finished my Camino in July of 2022, I attended Mass three times in three days. At one, there was a large area marked out for a group but it did not swing that day. On my last day in town, as I returned to my space after communion, I was passed by the men who swing it, recognizable by their wine-colored robes. Plenty of people took photos. I don't recall hearing that fast announcement. Afterwards, there was a healthy round of applause. I can still enjoy the video I took but the scent of incense is missing. Perhaps I should add a scented bookmark to my Find Penguins coffee table book?
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Latest I heard from a friend in Santiago was that the Bota Fumeiro was being refurbished and would be back in operation soon. One should not let the spectacle of the Bota get in the way of what’s truly important -and that is the Mass itself.
 
And back to the original question: A source (well connected and reliable I think) from Santiago says that each year around 450 groups or individuals pay for the Botafumeiro to swing. Even I am surprised by this high number.
 
There is one way to increase your chances of seeing the Botafumeiro swing. As folks have pointed out, tour groups will pay for it. In fact they often coordinate with other groups arriving at the same time, to share the cost.

So, sometime during your last few days, as you approach Santiago, look for a tour group. They're easy to spot...matching small day packs, for example, usually in very bright colors 😋. Chat them up, and ask if they are attending mass together, and if so...which one and will they see the Botafumeiro swing. They are quite happy to tell you. This works best on the Frances and Portuguese...the most popular with tour groups. I've used this technique on both those routes, with great success.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
And back to the original question: A source (well connected and reliable I think) from Santiago says that each year around 450 groups or individuals pay for the Botafumeiro to swing. Even I am surprised by this high number.
I expect that's why they don't advertise when it's been booked!
 
I expect that's why they don't advertise when it's been booked!
My guess is that they don’t advertise it because surely pilgrims go to the mass because it is mass and not because a big censer swings?

Mass times are 7:30, 9:30, 12:00 and 19:30 - just a reminder. ☺️

Edited to correct times: It’s 12:00 and not 12:30.
 
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Are you suggesting they "double book"?

Of course. I don´t think you will see the botafumeiro at 450 different masses.
I don't think the cathedral are in the habit of charging multiple times for the same swinging of the botafumeiro. Worth bearing in mind that there may be several masses on any given day and the botafumeiro may be used several times on the same day in busy periods.
 
Are you suggesting they "double book"?
Of course. I don´t think you will see the botafumeiro at 450 different masses.

Huh??? There are four pilgrim masses a day. 365 days in a year. 4 x 365 is way more services a year than 450 services.

At the height of the season there are sometimes 3 masses a day when the Botafumeiro swings each time. For a different group or a different individual each time.

You have to contact the office at least a week beforehand if you want to apply for the Botafumeiro to swing.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Huh??? There are four pilgrim masses a day. 365 days in a year. 4 x 365 is way bigger than 450.

You have to contact the office at least a week beforehand if you want to apply for the Botafumeiro to swing.
I know that. I still don´t think you will find that it swings at 450 different masses. I expect there are whole months where nobody pays.
 
I still don´t think you will find that it swings at 450 different masses.
Well, I myself do not think that it swings at 450 different masses. I quoted someone who lives where all this happens, is actively involved in pilgrimage and Cathedral related matters and said on Facebook that it swings at 450 different masses. So I think that this person has provided accurate information.
 
Well, I myself do not think that it swings at 450 different masses. I quoted someone who lives where all this happens, is actively involved in pilgrimage and Cathedral related matters and said on Facebook that it swings at 450 different masses. So I think that this person has provided accurate information.
Fair enough. That isn´t what you said in the original post. You said it is paid for by 450 groups or individuals, which I believe.
 
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Here is reply to my email

Good morning,

We regret to inform you that we are unable to make reservations until
December of this year, January 2025. We would be grateful if you could
contact us again in those dates.

Best regards,

El 01/03/2024 a las 4:38, xxxxxxxxxx escribió:
> I am planning a visit on my 80th birthday 6 January 2025 and I believe
> that the Botafumeiro will be in operation on that day, however if my
> arrival is delayed I believe I may request a special event with
> payment. Is that so and what is the payment?
>
> In prayer,
 
We regret to inform you that we are unable to make reservations until
December of this year, January 2025. We would be grateful if you could
contact us again in those dates.
To avoid misinterpretations: It does not mean that they won’t accept any requests during the next 10 months. It means that they won’t accept a request that is 10 months into the future.

@Camo, I am confused, I thought that you had no means to go to Spain? I am happy to read that you will go next year!
 
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I have ended each of my Caminos by staying at the Parador on the Cathedral Square. After checking into my room, my next stop is the Concierge desk. The Concierge always knows the correct status of the Botafumiero for the next few days. I presume that many of the people who pay for it are guests of the establishment and made arrangements through the Concierge. So, you can listen to rumors flying around the square or you can poke your head into the Parador and get the correct answer.
 
To avoid misinterpretations: It does not mean that they won’t accept any requests during the next 10 months. It means that they won’t accept a request that is 10 months into the future.

@Camo, I am confused, I thought that you had no means to go to Spain? I am happy to read that you will go next year!
Thank you for your kind thoughts Kath - the issue is more health than wealth and as the captain in The Way said he intends to do a third camino at 70 God Willing, at 80 it will be kinda like God willing squared. Meanwhile I am working furiously on my virtual tours of various Camino etc trails and if God decides I might make my 15th trip to Europe I will be ever so glad and have the Web-App to guide me
 
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Hey I am wondering if you know if this is fact?

We thought the botafumeiro would swing on May 23, 2024 (Apparition of the Apostle at Clavijo) and were trying to find out at which masses it would swing. Joe wrote to the Cathedral and got this response:

"We are sorry to inform you that for technical reasons the botafumeiro won't work until further notice."

Is this possible?
Does anyone know what's going on?
 
"We are sorry to inform you that for technical reasons the botafumeiro won't work until further notice."

Is this possible?
Does anyone know what's going on?
The botafumeiro is currently out of use and the swinging mechanism has been partly dismantled and the ropes removed. So far there seems to be no definite date for its return to use. I was told this morning that all mentions of its use for the Easter celebrations have been removed from the cathedral's liturgical programme so it sounds as if it will not be back in action very soon.
 
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The botafumeiro is currently out of use and the swinging mechanism has been partly dismantled and the ropes removed. So far there seems to be no definite date for its return to use. I was told this morning that all mentions of its use for the Easter celebrations has been removed from the cathedral's liturgical programme so it sounds as if it will not be back in action very soon.
Thank you.
 
I was told this morning that all mentions of its use for the Easter celebrations have been removed from the cathedral's liturgical programme so it sounds as if it will not be back in action very soon.
It's still showing on this page:


And here also:


But please do pass on any information that you have.
 
It's still showing on this page:
It is usually mentioned on the detailed Liturgical Calendar page for those festivals where it is routinely used. Like the mention of the use of the Carraca in Holy Week. But it is no longer being listed for the moment.

 
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