We ventured up into Spain to visit Santiago de Compostela, home to one of the world’s most striking cathedrals. The Cathedral is massive and has been a pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The tomb of James, one of the disciples of Christ, is located in the Cathedral and Christians from all over flock to Santiago de Compostela to visit. It is traditional to walk to Santiago de Compostela (some ride horses) and folks walk hundreds of miles on their pilgrimage. I must say their clothing is somewhat different from Middle Age attire! St James, by the way, is usually depicted with headgear with the scallop shell.
Esther and I attended a service (in Spanish) and were treated to the swinging of the huge (at least 6 foot) thurible (or femeira) which is swung by priests pulling on 4 ropes! The purpose of this activity is to cleanse the air and space around the altar with incense. Maybe another reason in the Middle Ages when no one bathed or changed clothes for weeks! The odors of hundreds of parishioners must have been overwhelming!! The incense was a necessity to cleanse the entire church!!
While sitting in the church during the service, I got chilly even though it was 75 degrees outside. I cannot imagine how cold it must be in the cathedral in winter with no heat in the Middle Ages. It is a wonder anyone made a service in the old days!
How things have changed over the years.