Botafumeiro

botafumeiroThe Botafumeiro is a famous thurible found in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Incense is burned in this swinging metal container, or incensory. The name "Botafumeiro" means "smoke expeller" in Galician.

The Santiago de Compostela Botafumeiro is one of the largest censers in the world, weighing 80 kilograms or 176 pounds and measures 1.60 meters or 63 inches in height. It is normally on exhibition in the library of the cathedral, but during certain important religious occasions it is brought to the cathedral and attached to ropes hung from the pulley mechanism.

At the top of the swing, the Botafumeiro reaches heights of 21 meters or 69 feet. It swings between the Azabachería and Praterias doorways at the ends of the transept. The maximum angle achieved is about 82°. The maximum can be reached after about 17 cycles, and requires about 80 seconds of swinging.

The use of a swinging censer in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral began in the 11th century. Arriving pilgrims were tired and unwashed. It was also believed that incense smoke had a precautionary effect in the time of plagues and epidemics.

If we are lucky, we will see the botafumeiro swing during the Pilgrim's Mass in the Cathedral at the end of our tour.

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