AmericanCatholic.org
 
Skip Navigation Links
Home
Catholic News
Saints
Seasonal
Special Reports
Movies
Shopping
Donate
Share:
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus
LinkedIn
Email
RSS Feeds

advertisement


advertisement
top catholic news View Comments
Traditional Pilgrim Rituals Await Pope at Santiago de Compostela
By
Carol Glatz
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Sunday, October 31, 2010
Click here to email! Email | Click here to print! Print | Size: A A |  
 
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—When Pope Benedict XVI heads to Spain Nov. 6-7, he will follow some of the traditional rituals that pilgrims engage in when visiting the popular pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela.

It will be his first time to the ancient pilgrimage city and to Barcelona where he will consecrate the partially completed Church of the Sagrada Familia, or Holy Family.

"He's very happy to go (to Compostela) because it's something he has wanted very much," said the Vatican's chief spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, during a press briefing Oct. 29.

Before becoming pope, "he and his brother also once talked about them going together, but it never happened," said Father Lombardi.

Though he will not have walked the miles of roadsides and pathways other Compostela pilgrims travel when going on foot or by horse, the pope will still carry out some of the traditional pilgrimage rituals at the cathedral.

The pope will walk through the cathedral's Holy Door, which was opened at the start of the year. The feast of St. James, July 25, fell on a Sunday this year, making 2010 a holy year.

Tradition holds that the remains of the apostle St. James the Greater—Santiago in Spanish—are buried in the city's cathedral. The pope will head to the crypt and pray at the apostle's tomb and he will embrace a statue of St. James, another pilgrim tradition.

Finally, the pope will incense the cathedral in an unusual method particular to the Santiago church.

A giant incense burner, about the size of an adult human being, hangs from a rope wrapped around a double pulley in front of the main altar. At special pilgrim Masses and events, the incense burner is swung across the church in a trajectory similar to that of a trapeze performer in a circus.

The burner is called a "botafumeiro" in Galician, the Spanish dialect spoken in Santiago de Compostela, and it means "smoke thrower."

In medieval times, its function was not just liturgical. It was also filled with perfumes to deodorize the smells from the hordes of sweating and unwashed pilgrims who went straight to the cathedral after days on the road.


More on Pope Benedict XVI >>
More Top Catholic News >>

blog comments powered by Disqus







Come find us at: Facebook | St. Anthony Messenger magazine Twitter | American Catholic YouTube | American Catholic


An AmericanCatholic.org Site from the Franciscans and Franciscan Media Copyright © 1996 - 2014