The Botufumiero

The Santiago de Compostela Botafumeiro is one of the largest censers in the world, weighing 80 kg/176 lbs. and measuring 1.60 m/5.25 ft. in height.  It is hung from a pulley mechanism in the dome on the roof of the church . The current pulley mechanism was installed in 1604.

Tradition has it that 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 purifying effect in the time of plagues and epidemics.  Incense burning is also an important part of the liturgy, being an “oration to God”, or form of prayer.

As I am told and have experienced, the Botafumeiro does not swing at each and every Pilgrim’s Mass.  However, during the mass on June 7th, it did swing.  I was very happy that my tour group was able to witness this traditional swinging.

10 responses to “The Botufumiero

  1. Arlene,
    I think getting to see the botafumeiro swinging was the most powerful experience of the whole Camino Frances that my husband and I walked. No matter how religious or not you are, it reaches deep and you can’t help but feel the power. Truly a great experience!!!!


    • Lynda,
      Yes, I have experienced it all but once on all of my Caminos. Each time it swings new emotions are brought forth in me.


  2. At first I didn’t realize the above is a video. Wow, that brings back the memories!. We have to go again! Beautiful filming!. Thanks Arlene.


  3. Travelling Kiwi

    Hello Arlène
    Thanks very much for putting up this wonderful video clip. You must have been in exactly the right position, as you have really captured how it must have been. What a great finish to your camino!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Elizabeth,
      You are most welcome. As you continue to follow my blogs you will learn how much I love the Camino, this was the 7th Camino and I’m already thinking of going back! The Camino’s call for me is quite strong.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fabulous Arlene! xo


  5. Ah, how lucky for you and your group. When I was there in 2012, we too were lucky enough to see and experience it – amazing 🙂


    • Hi Britta,
      Yes I was very happy the group was able to experience the swinging. It truly is the crowning end to any pilgrimage!


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