Cathedral – Santiago de Compostela

 May 24, 2016
This was my last day in Santiago and even though I took a day off to go to the coast yesterday, today felt like the final completion to my pilgrimage, my journey from St.Jean Pied de Port in France, over the Pyrenees, through the rolling hills of Basque country, ancient villages and medieval churches and monasteries, the wheat fields and canola flower fields, the ups and downs and winding cobbled stoned streets of the hill towns, the vineyards, the very wide open flat plains, the mountains into green plush Galicia . . . .ended as I attended the mass at Santiago de Compostela Catherdral.
I am not Catholic, I am a Protestant Christian so I had no attachment to the pomp and circumstance of the service. It was all in Spanish and I recognized no words that sounded like scripture. I attended another pilgrim mass or blessing in a small village in the mountains a couple of weeks ago and I was given a paper with the English translation of the service which made it very enjoyable, personal and meaningful as the priest read the scriptures. Today in Santiago there was a woman singing and a backup choir and I absolutely loved the music. I loved the gold above the altar and the red vestments of the priests against the background of the white altar. It was so beautiful, but for me, not “spiritually” meaningful. Just beautiful and I knew they were talking about my Jesus.
However, at the end of the mass, when everyone that went forward had received communion and were seated, a hush came across the crowd as men in maroon vestments came forward and the large incense burners started swinging. This tradition was originally started in medieval times because the cathedral was filled with pilgrims that smelled from weeks or months of walking. Today it is a tradition that for me was magical and really completed my six week journey across Spain. We had heard that they weren’t doing it every day, they did it only on Fridays; so we weren’t expecting it. We heard wrong.
You had to be there to to know what I am talking about. I don’t know if you had to be a pilgrim to feel what I felt, but it ended my journey on an upbeat, surreal, magical tone.

Turn your sound up to enjoy this little snippet of a video (you can also enlarge the video by clicking the marks in the lower right):

Come share the time with me in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral:

The North side of the Cathedral:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

North Side


North side

We entered through a door on the east side and found a seat as we knew seating for the mass was at a premium.


The view above where we were sitting


The beautiful altar – look at the detail and the statue of St. James


Another view of the altar

There were no photographs allowed during the service, but before the mass started, I took some photos of the columns which really fascinated me.

After the mass we stayed in the Cathedral wandering around, looking into every little crook and cranny. Other than the ornate altar, it was quite simple and plain.


A statue of Jesus in a small side chapel (I am not sure if that is what they are called-the little rooms on the side of the cathedral)


Statue of St. James based on a legend that he returned (came back to life) to fight the Moors in the Battle of Clavijo,

 In the crypt, below the altar:

The remains of St. James


Also in the crypt, appeared to be empty, but I don’t know what was in there – it was not accessible.

The long line to touch the statue of St. James.

Coming out on the other side after touching the statue of St. James.


An altar in one of the side chapels


I could not read who was buried here.

After the mass I was able to get up closer to the altar to take these.


A better view?


Western view of the Cathedral from the Plaza del Obradoiro,


We left the cathedral and went to a four-level museum within the western face of the cathedral. As we walked up the stairs we were treated with reaching the roof on the top level. We walked out on the ancient stones and imagined how it might look when the present day restoration is completed.



We looked at our watches and knew it was time to leave the Cathedral, it was almost 3 pm and we had an early flight in the morning  to return to San Diego; we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. We left silently so filled with the awe and the extent of knowledge we had received in the cathedral and in the museum. We had lunch again in our favorite restaurant in Santiago, Casa Manolo. As we walked back to our hotel, La Salle, I felt complete and satisfied with my journey. I am blessed that I was able to complete it. I am still processing it all, but I turned around and took my last view of ancient streets of old Santiago and snapped this picture:


Good bye Santiago de Compostela

May 27, 2016

I am home now, shaking off the jet lag, processing this wonderful experience and looking at the wonderful photos that are a part of the journey. I have shared on this blog just a few of the hundreds of photos I took. When I get a little more settled I will come up with a way to share all the photos that will be easy and entertaining. So, for those interested, you can keep following the blog and look forward to hearing from me again. Thank you for your interest, your comments and your encouragement in sharing this journey with me.



10 comments on “Cathedral – Santiago de Compostela

  1. Pat says:

    I missed the incense burner swinging when I was there. After the fact I was told that they do it Every Friday night and at the noon pilgrim mass when someone pays the $500 for it, usually a tour group, you were lucky!

  2. Kathy Stern says:

    The cathedral looks magnificent. Does anyone ever get hit in the head with the swinging incense burners? 😊

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Phyllis Weber says:

    Geri, I have enjoyed your  journey, it had to be breathtaking, awesome and awe all at the same time plus humbling.  Thank you so much for sharing, the pictures and detail were magnificent-rest now and take it all in for years ahead.  Glad God blessed you on this trip.  Phyllis 

    From: Geri Wilsons Room To: Sent: Friday, May 27, 2016 1:51 PM Subject: [New post] Cathedral – Santiago de Compostela #yiv4811093300 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4811093300 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4811093300 a.yiv4811093300primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4811093300 a.yiv4811093300primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4811093300 a.yiv4811093300primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4811093300 a.yiv4811093300primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4811093300 | Geri Wilson posted: ” May 24, 2016This was my last day in Santiago and even though I took a day off to go to the coast yesterday, today felt like the final completion to my pilgrimage, my journey from St.Jean Pied de Port in France, over the Pyrenees, through the rolling h” | |

  4. Virginia says:

    Congratulations Geri! on completing an awesome journey! An unforgettable adventure!! I so enjoyed following you on every blog! Glad you are home safe and sound and hope to hear more when I see you!

  5. Jan says:

    Fantastic post. Praying you recover quickly. Enjoy memories forever

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