Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fly, Butafumiero, fly!!

Well, despite all the drama with the black eyes, I somehow lucked out yesterday at the Pilgrim´s Mass. The butafumiero, for which the cathedral is famous for, was lowered the night before, to let everyone know that it was going to be swung the next day.

I got to the Cathedral before 11:30 & it was already packed. I took one look at the rope & pulley, & guessed which way the butafumiero was going to fly. (So glad I was paying attention in science class that day....remember that, kiddies....never know when you´re going to have to use Newton´s Laws.....) Took my seat in one of the cross aisles (transept????) instead of the main aisle where everyone else was crowding, so I could see the thing fly. Shortly before the service started, the singing nun came out & did her best to teach us some of the responses. I have to admit I was pretty good with the Ave, Ave, Ave Mariiiiiaaaaa & Jesus Jesus Salvatore, but had to hum some of the other responses because they were too long & I didn´t recognize the words. No matter how half-heartedly we sang, the nun smiled sweetly at us & said "bueno bueno...con mucho corazon...todos, todos" & we´d start off again belting out our Ave Marias & Jesus Salvatores.

The Pilgrim´s Mass is a regular mass, but before it starts, we all stand while the priest reads off the countries the pilgrims from yesterday came from, which route they took, & how many. I was one of Los Peregrinos de los Estados Unidos who started at St Jean Pied du Port. There were also several others from Denmark, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, France, Finland, Brazil, & Germany.

The butafumiero didn´t fly until the end of the service. Instead of the usual benediction after communion, there was a commotion at the front of the altar as the butafumiero was lowered & the men responsible for it lit it, then raised it again. Priests & nuns brought several disabled & sick people forward so they could see & also be blessed by the smoke (I suppose). Everyone with a camera or cell phone started recording & taking photos (even though it´s not permitted, this is such a rare event in the Cathedral no one was stopped from recording it). The organs started blasting out music (I always think of the processional from the Sound of Music...they didn´t play that, but have that running in your heads while you read this part).

As the butafumiero was raised, smoke & incense were pouring from it...I could smell it all the way back where I was....the men began to haul on the rope, causing it to swing. First it swung low before the altar...then they pulled harder & it went up higher....and higher....and further back along the side way it was going to reach me, omg yes it did & :gasp: it almost hit the ceiling way above us!!!!!!!!!!!!! People on the side aisles were gasping, ooohing & aaaahing...those who took the seats in the front realized they were in the wrong place too late & only got to see it swing back & forth across the altar & in front of the statue of St. James....and just like that, it was absolutely amazing experience!

After mass, I stood in line to "give Jimmy a hug," as we say. You line up & walk up some stairs behind the main altar, then you are in a little place behind the statue of St. James that overlooks the cathedral. You can put your hands or arms around him & say thanks, or touch or kiss the shell on his back. You don´t get too long to do this & you are NOT permitted to take a picture here...too personal & private, then it´s down the stairs & to the left, down more stairs to the crypt where you visit the tomb of St. James & 2 of his followers who brought his body to Spain. Whether those are his bones or not, I don´t care. It´s quite a heady experience to be looking at the tomb of someone who knew Jesus, who talked with Him & was there at the Crucifixion & Resurrection.

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