Santiago and the Prince of Japan

We reached Santiago de Compostela under a warm sun. The streets were lively, filled with students, pilgrims and other tourists, including the Prince of Japan! It was very different atmosphere than our visit last year, which was both misty and mystic.
The cathedral was closed to pilgrims on the day of our arrival, due to the prince’s visit. But Santiago was as beautiful as ever, filled with marvelous churches, bars, shops, museums and restaurants.

Live music in the streets ranged from Italian opera to Spanish guitar, classical flute and haunting zither music. The cathedral bookstore played medieval Celtic music, while other stores played modern versions by popular local groups.

The sound of Galician bagpipes continues to greet pilgrims to the city.

The Sunday pilgrim mass was very crowded, as always, and very moving. A lovely choir sang, and priests from various countries co-celebrated the mass, including Italy and the US. It is hard to capture the sense of shared adventures, both physical and spiritual, from the pilgrims seated in pews, on stone pillars, on steps and on the floor.

The mass is famous for the oversized, swinging incense burner called a butafumeiro. Eight red-robed priests are required to lift it with ropes and let it swing across the transept of the church, swinging high up to the ceiling.

The pictures show a Galician bagpipe player, our arrival as pilgrims to the cathedral, the butafumeiro, the altar of the cathedral, a view onto the main square after Mass, and the musicians who played for the Prince of Japan.

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