A Day in Santiago

One of the capstone experiences for our Camino adventure was to attend the noon mass at Santiago Cathedral, the endpoint of the Camino de Santiago. Fortunately, Judi and I arrived at 11:00 to get good seats near the altar and to appreciate the opulence of the religious art. The cathedral holds more than 700 people and was full to overflowing, with people standing inside the doorways and in the side aisles. When the murmurs of the waiting crowd grew too loud, a security guard would quietly announce, “Silencio, por favor,” to maintain the dignity of the atmosphere.

A priest celebrated mass, assisted by visiting clergy from Taiwan, Germany, England, and the United States, pilgrims who had completed the Camino this week.

Hundreds of Catholic massgoers received Communion, and the mass concluded. The anticipation of what would come next kept everyone from leaving, however. The botafumeiro, a giant incense burner suspended on a thick rope, would be swung over the altar and back and forth in a huge arc from side to side in the cross-shaped church interior. Today’s pilgrims, unlike those in times long gone by, don’t need fumigating. Instead, the swinging of the botafumeiro symbolizes thanksgiving for our safe arrivals into Santiago.

Five stalwart men united to raise the incense burner and send it swinging back and forth.

The drama of the smoking and swinging botafumeiro contrasted beautifully with the light, sweet voice of a young nun who was accompanied on the huge, cherub-adorned pipe organ.

As we left the church, we stopped to greet and say goodbye to some of our Camino “family.”

Our fellow pilgrim Pedro has walked the Camino twice, once after his father’s death and this time after his mother’s death.
Our friends from Georgia, always full of smiles and laughter

Soon Judi and I will leave Santiago, bursting with memories of rich experiences and connections with new friends.

8 thoughts on “A Day in Santiago”

  1. Best wishes for a smooth reentry to the world away from the Camino. Hold on to your Camino high for as long as you can!

  2. We loved meeting and walking with you, Judy and Barb! Your blog is beautifully written and this page captures the awe-inspiring Mass at the cathedral perfectly. I wish I could share it to my facebook page but don’t know how. Safe travels back to NH. May we meet again!

  3. This must have been quite a way to end your journey on the Camino. I am sure that you have years of tales to tell about the journey and the people you met along the way. I can’t wait to hear them. Have a safe trip back and I look forward to seeing you in November.

  4. A fitting conclusion to an amazing adventure! God was surely looking over you!
    Welcome home! (almost)
    I am wonderfing what you are most looking forward to… There is likely a list! 🙂
    xo~~ Diane

  5. If you attend a high mass locally you can again experience the concentration with insense. At Christmas most Catholic Church’s offer it.

  6. Judy and Barb
    Thanks so much for sharing your amazing pilgrimage! It’s beautiful, breathtaking, inspirational and educational. It was so well done. I’m sure there was a part of you that did not want it to end. Welcome home, ladies.
    I think you two women are awesome..really!

    Terry Webster❤️

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