July 2016

Have the Botafumeiro ever flown outside the Cathedral?

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Accidents with the Botafumeiro

On this issue it is not known what is history and what is legend. The first occasion of which are known to fell the Botafumeiro of the Cathedral of Santiago was a day of Santiago Apostle, on 25 July 1499. It was no accident that at the moment of maximum exaltation, when the censer was flying at the top 68 kilometers per hour, one of the four chains holding the main body of the censer broke and her companions could not bear the weight alone.

Finally all the Botafumeiro chains broke and flew off like a projectile traveling the transept and ended up slamming against the door of Platerias Sq. The “device” was completely crushed like a soda can. The urban legend, fueled by word of mouth that the censer crossed the big rosette and went to give the fountain of the horses, even that fell next to a chestnut woman which did not died by a kind of miracle, but that would have been impossible because physics and its laws would not allow it.


The second accident took place on 23 May 1622. This time it was the rope that broke, and the Botafumeiro, then a solid silver (it was donated in 1554 Louis XI of France and take away again as trophy by Napoleon’s troops in 1809), he rushed to lead on tiraboleiros, although as have without harming anyone.

Count the former head of the tiraboleiros, D. Armando Raposo, who worked on the Cathedral from 1950 and was tiraboleiro since 1964, he believes was in two years saints (again happens Holy Years Xacobean but this high probability is by explanation that during these years flying the Botafumeiro 4 or 5 times a day) when claims that befell says. One was a July 25 when an acolyte down from the altar without calculating the speed of the Botafumeiro and when they wanted to account already had an impact on him. The device took him ahead, and had to be taken to hospital honking because he had broken three ribs.

The injured again who came out was a German. There was a meeting at the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos and participants hired a Mass with Botafumeiro. They were getting dangerously, facing the pulley system and one of those final moments of low-flying, foot censer scratched her face. Entire forehead to the tip of the nose. The German was bleeding and had a broken wall.

Catedral de Satiago desde Apostol

Sure there have been more occasions, real or covers legend, but we have told a few of which tells the true story of Don Armando Raposo, a character from top to bottom we have been fortunate to know, like her son Julio, also Cathedral worker .

Flying the Botafumeiro (from inside)


Do you want to feel the flight of the Botafumeiro from above?

According to information that gives us the web of the Cathedral of Santiago Botafumeiro is one of the most famous and popular of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela symbols, and certainly the most touristy. It is for this reason that from the Cathedral and from the Archbishopric try to remove this tourist tradition placing value on the liturgical sense of the act of flying Botafumeiro. It is a censer, mixing coal and incense, of extraordinary dimensions that moves from the dome of the Cathedral, where flies through a pulley system on the side transept of the cathedral. Eight people are needed to move, known as “tiraboleiros“. Weighs 53 kg and measuring 1.50 meters high; can reach 68 km/h and is suspended at a height of 20 meters.

The first reference we have of Botafumeiro is an entry in the Codex Calixtinus, which is called “Turibulum Magnum”. Throughout history there were several Botafumeiros; there are currently two copies, one brass dating from 1851 and is the work of José Losada, replaced pillaged during the French occupation and is commonly used. The second Botafumeiro is a silver replica of the previous and was given to the Apostle by the Provisional Second Lieutenants in 1971. Only placed in the transept of the Cathedral when it works, usually tucking in the Chapter Library.

Every Friday of the year (except Friday), at the Mass of 19: 30h, offering Pilgrim and is sponsored by the Hospitality Association of Santiago, the Chamber of Commerce of Santiago, the Council of Santiago de Compostela in which these entities have called “Tribute to the pilgrims” as the city thanks to the efforts of the hundreds of pilgrims who arrive every week through the Caminos de Santiago.

These are the dates fixed by the Cathedral where the Botafumeiro fly:

The Epiphany: January 6
Easter Sunday
The Ascension of the Lord
The Apparition of the Apostle-Clavijo: May 23
The Martyrdom of Santiago: July 25
Mary’s Assumption: August 15
All Saints: November 1
Christ the King
Immaculate Conception: December 8
Christmas: December 25
Transfer of the remains of the Apostle: December 30.

If you need to know if the botafumeiro flies during your visit to Santiago de Compostela we recommend that you approach the Sacristy and ask to the kind nuns over there (hey! We have said nuns …) and if you are a group always able to hire previously. Also, if it is hung it supposed to fly but … in which mass?