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The Botafumeiro, Santiago cathedral incensory

The Botafumeiro (literally ’smoke spreader’ in Galician) is one of the most famous and popular symbols of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. This is a huge censer that swings up the aisles of the Cathedral through a pulley system pulled by eight men named tiraboleiros. It weighs 53kg and measures five feet. It is suspended from a height of 20 metres and can reach a speed of 70 miles per hour.


The Botafumeiro is used for liturgical purposes (in the same way as a priest would normally incense the altar) on the following Feast Days:

  • The Epiphany of the Lord – 6 January
  • Easter Sunday
  • The Ascension of the Lord
  • The Apparition of the Apostle – 23 May
  • Pentecost Sunday
  • The Martyrdom of Saint James – 25 July
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin – 15 August
  • All Saints – 1 November
  • Christ the King
  • Immaculate Conception – 8 December
  • Birth of Jesus – 25 December
  • Transfer of the body of the Apostle – 30 December

The Botafumeiro may be used on other occasions when groups arrange this.


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