July 2012 | Nate Pedersen

Codex Calixtinus Recovered

codexc.jpgThe Codex Calixtinus, an illuminated 12th century manuscript considered the world's first guidebook, was recovered Tuesday by Spanish police a year after it was stolen from the library of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.  The presumed thief, Manuel Fernandez Castineiras, a disgruntled former employee of the Cathedral, housed the priceless manuscript in a garbage bag in his garage along with a variety of other stolen books from the Cathedral's library and 1.2 million euros in cash.  Spanish authorities arrested Castineiras along with several other people identified as co-conspirators. The Codex reportededly remains in "good condition."

codex recovered.jpgThe Codex is considered the crown jewel of the Cathedral's library.  Its theft last year highlighted significant lapses in archive security.  Despite housing the Codex in a reinforced glass case with 24/7 security cameras trained upon it, an investigation after the theft revealed that the cameras were not turned on and the case was probably left unlocked.

The Codex, which consists of sermons, reports of miracles associated with St James, musical pieces, and practical travel advice for pilgrims, was originally compiled around 1150. 

For many centuries, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain has been a famous destination for Catholic pilgrims from around the world.  The cathedral is the presumed burial place of St. James, one of the original Apostles, who is said to have preached Christianity to the early Celtic tribes of the Iberian peninsula.  The Cathedral was built in the 11th century and became a popular pilgrimage site almost immediately upon its completion.  To this day, thousands of religious travelers make the journey to the cathedral on foot via the Way of St James, crossing ancient European pilgrimage paths through the Pyrenees mountains.