Priceless medieval manuscript stolen from Spanish cathedral

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. Credit: Claudio Saavedra
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. Credit: Claudio Saavedra

.- A priceless 12th-century Catholic manuscript is missing from the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela in Spain and is presumed to be stolen.
The Codex Calixtinus is a medieval guidebook written for those on pilgrimage to the historic Galician town where the apostle St. James is traditionally believed to be buried.

Fr. Jose Maria Diaz Fernandez, the dean and archivist of the cathedral, told a July 7 press conference that “The Codex is so much part of Santiago that around the world people do not cite one without mentioning the other.”

Fr. Fernandez says he was first alerted to the loss on Tuesday evening. He called the police to the scene on Wednesday.

“We do not know if it’s been stolen by a collector or a band of professionals. What we can do is offer our full cooperation to the police.”
“It is the first time that such a thing has happened in this archive. Pray to the Apostle (St. James) to help us to recover the book as soon as possible.”
“We are investigating its disappearance,” said a local police spokeswoman, according to the AFP news agency. “It is usually kept in a room to which only half a dozen people have access,” she said.
The local newspaper, Correo Gallego, reports that only five security cameras were used to monitor the archives and none were pointing directly at the safe where the medieval manuscript was stored.
“Although security systems have been improved considerably, it is true to say that they are not of the kind one might find in a bank or a well-protected jeweller,” the newspaper opined.

The manuscript, possibly commissioned by Pope Calixtus II, helped popularize a pilgrimage route that drew over 270,000 pilgrims in 2010. The author of the book tells how medieval pilgrims traveled from as far away as Scotland to the north and Asia to the east to pray at the tomb of the apostle.

Its purpose, though, was largely practical with advice for those traveling to the shrine. It also includes a history of St. James, sermons ascribed to the apostle and songs and poems in his honor.

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