Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

An altarboy’s dream!

September 13th, 2009, Promulgated by Choir

The swinging Botafumeiro dispensing clouds of incense. The dome above the crossing contains the pulley mechanism to swing the “Botafumeiro”, which is a famous thurible found in this church. This thurible was created by the goldsmith Jos? Losada in 1851. The Santiago de Compostela Botafumeiro is the largest censer in the world, weighing 80 kg (176 pounds) and measuring 1.60 m in height. It is normally on exhibition in the library of the cathedral, but during certain important religious high days it is attached to the pulley mechanism, filled with 40 kg (88 pounds) of charcoal and incense. In the Jubilee Years, whenever St James’s Day falls on a Sunday, the Botafumeiro is also attached in all the Pilgrims’ Masses. Eight red-robed tiraboleiros pull the ropes and bring it into a swinging motion almost to the roof of the transept, reaching speeds of 60 km/h and dispensing thick clouds of incense. One irreverent explanation of this custom, which originated more than 700 years ago–although incense has been used in Catholic ritual from the earliest times–is that it assisted in masking the stench emanating from hundreds of unwashed pilgrims.



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