The transept and the botafumeiro censer

Let’s take a look at the transept now. Above us, you can see a Gothic octagonal dome, supported by robust pillars. This replaced the original Romanesque lantern. The balcony dates from the Baroque period.

The dome is spanned by a metal structure with a pulley mechanism on it that is strong enough to bear the weight and move the immense censer known as the botafumeiro, in which incense is burnt.

Botafumeiro means “smoke dispenser” in Galician. It has been used as part of the liturgy since the 13th century to purify the air in the church, which was heavy due to the crowds of pilgrims who spent the night in the cathedral on special occasions.

The ornate 16th -century silver and gold censer disappeared into the hands of the French during the Peninsular War, and it was replaced by an iron one that was used until 1851. It requires eight men, known in Galician as tiraboleiros, to move it. Today it is used on special days, turning them into quite an event. It is usually kept in the library.

It has fallen a number of times, once in 1499, when Henry the Eighth’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon was visiting the church, though she was unharmed.

Don’t forget to go and see the elaborate bronze pulpits, which are supported on a column with mermaids on it and with Atlantes at the top. The elegant canopy serves to amplify the sound.

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Diego Laforga Marcos

Picture: Crucero
Source: Own work
Author: Diego Laforga (2013)

Picture: Botafumueiro
Source: Wiki Commons
Author: Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez
Licence: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license