I will begin by saying that the left spire of the cathedral was encased in scaffolding when we arrived. Pretty sure that falls to me! Whenever I visit holy site they tend to have scaffolding; Iona Abbey, Angkor Wat and now the cathedral.
I have been to many Cathedrals, named for the bishops seat, and those done in a variety of styles; gothic, Romanesque, classical and contemporary. But none quite as grand as the Santiago Cathedral. It is done in a Romanesque style with Gothic and Baroque additions. There are many chapels along the sides of the cathedral. Construction began in 1075 and it is a World heritage site. It was deemed, by papal cee to be the third holiest place in Christendom (following Jerusalem and Rome).
When you enter it first seems a little austere or barren, until you enter into the view of the altar piece and looming pipes of the organ. You can walk up behind the altar and embrace the golden likeness of St. James, and then go beneath the altar and kneel in front of the tomb of St. James the apostle (as it is believed). There are as many as 15 confessionals manned at random for pilgrims requiring that service.
But the most stunning thing in the cathedral is the censor which hangs from the center of the Cathedral. It is used during the Pilgrims Mass and on special occasions. Each use requires about 40 kg (more than 50 pounds) of combined charcoal and incense. And it is swung by 10 robed men, then length of the cross beam of the cathedral, with its flames visible as it flies by overhead. Tradition holds that it was to mask the odor of smelly piligrims. But as it arose and descended over my head all i could think of was ascension day, which was while we were there, and how all the disciples looked up as Jesus left them again.
It was a thin place.
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