Botafumeiro: Tradition and spectacle
The cathedral of the Santiago de Compostela is the end of the different ways . In this place there is one of the most important symbols of this city, the botafumeiro. It is a censer over one and half meter and its weight is about 50 kilograms. The botafumeiro is used in most important masses, it oscillates over the people inside the church at 70 km/h. The tiraboleiros are the men who move this big monument.
The origin of the use of this huge censer is about the twelfth century, and it is already mentioned in the Calixtino Codex. The botafumeiro gave a good smell to the temple because the ancient pilgrims slept inside the cathedral and they smelt bad. The use of the botafumeiro is dangerous and it has risks, but along the history there were very few accidents. In the nineteenth century the Napoleon’s army stole the botafumeiro which Louis XI of France had paid.
The botafumeiro is used following a schedule of religious celebrations when it is moved during the mass. However, anyone can book this spectacle in advance. It is an event highly valued by the participants because emotions are on edge due to the great speed the botafumeiro achieves and because the technique to move it is very complicated.
Fotografía por Ignacio Varela Guerrero.