Wednesday, 28 July 2010
The Saint, the King and the Pilgrims
Synchronised by tradition the processions formed one line which slowly mounted the mighty steps of the cathedral. The organ sounded their entrance and the Mass of the Feast of Santiago began. The waiting congregation who had been arriving in the Cathedral from 6am heaved a collective sigh of relief but their enthusiasm rallied when they applauded the flying Botafumeiro before cheering the King and Queen out of the cathedral.
On the Saturday evening there was the final service in the series of nine held each day before the Feast. For each the Cathedral was packed to hear the Cathedral Choir sing anthems medieval and modern. After this last service people poured out of the Cathedral into the square which was already half full with people reserving their places to see the fireworks display which would herald the Feast Day proper at midnight. At 11.30 the cathedral and square plunged into darkness and there began the most magnificent and deeply moving sound and light show imaginable. On the old walls of this medieval cathedral was projected the mystical history of pilgrimage. Images of stained glass from Cathedrals along the way were projected in full technicolour. Fish, fishermen, octopus, fishing boats and glorious Celtic symbols celebrated all that is Galician. The thundering music accompanied a fireworks display which they say is the best ever. The cathedral appeared to burn and the spires appeared to dance in the sky. Catherine wheels whirled and thousands whooped with delight. High on the roof of the cathedral spotlights picked out gaiteros playing their Galician bagpipes and had there been room everyone would have danced.
Almost poignant in contrast were the familiar scenes of pilgrimage which followed. A scallop shell and the crowd murmured approval. A gigantic yellow arrow and they applauded. When the biggest map of the routes imaginable appeared they cheered and when the entire cathedral became a credencial bedecked with sellos thousands of voices roared approval. The fireworks display had a magnificent finale which reached far into the sky. The sound and light exhibition with some fireworks is being repeated every evening for a week. St James is being celebrated in style.