The walk today was an easy walk. Before today almost all of the people I passed made eye contact and said, “Buen Camino.” The people in Santiago were busily trying to get to work or wherever they had to go. There was one young man who stopped to talk with me and told me about the volunteer pilgrim office in town where he volunteered.
Actually walking into the old area of Santiago was amazing. I felt so overwhelmed. I made it.
After checking into Albergue Azabache, I went to the church for the Mass. David Moran told me to get there early and also told me where to sit. I met up with Catherine (from California) we sat together for almost 2 hours waiting for the Mass to start. It was fun watching all of the people enter the church.
They did the Botafumeiro during the Mass so it was a lucky day to be there.
The Botafumeiro is one of the most famous and popular symbols of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It is a large thurible that hangs by means of a system of pulleys from the main dome of the Cathedral and swings toward the side naves. It takes eight men to move it, who are known as “tiraboleiros”. It weighs 53 kg and measures 1.50 metres; it hangs from a height of 20 metres and can pick up great speed.
The Botafumeiro is used for liturgical reasons, in the same way as a priest would use a censer (the vessel in which incense was presented on “the golden altar” before the Lord in the temple) at the altar. It operates during the Cathedral’s main solemnities during the entrance procession or at the end of the Eucharist. The purpose of this great censer is to symbolise the true attitude of the believer. In the same way that the smoke from the incense rises to the top of the temple’s naves, so must the prayers of the pilgrims rise to reach the heart of God. And in the same manner that the aroma of the incense perfumes the entire basilica, so must Christians, with their virtues and the testimony of their lives, impregnate with the good scent of Christ, the society that they live in.
It was amazing to see how high it swung (practically going right over our heads) and then back the other way.
The Mass included beautiful singing. The church was totally packed with people.
After the Mass I went to wait in the line for my Credential. It took more than 2 hours in line. I saw several people in line including Loretta. I filled out the paperwork and showed them my 2 full books of stamps and the 3rd one with a few stamps.
It is official. I have walked the Camino Frances.
I wandered around town for the rest of the day; saw Ellen (dressed in white); and had a fantastic dinner with Camino Ellie, Marnie, Jan, Rose, Kate and some new friends at Malak. It is a vegetarian restaurant that was recommended to Ellie. What a marvelous meal.
We had a wonderful conversation about our Camino. I have loved the experience yet don’t really know what the effect, if any, it will have on my life. For Bärbel it was absolutely life changing.
Tomorrow I will stay in Santiago wandering around and watching pilgrims enter the Square. Then on Sunday I plan to begin my walk to Finisterre (88.7 km) and then to Muxia (28.5 km.) – probably in the rain.