Medieval Codex Calixtinus recovered; four arrested

A medieval text stolen from the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in northwest Spain last year was found in a nearby garage on Wednesday, after police arrested a handyman - fired after 25 years at the cathedral - and three members of his family.

The Codex Calixtinus, a 12th century collection of sermons and liturgical passages, vanished last July from a safe deposit box in the cathedral, the end of the ancient pilgrimage route the Camino de Santiago.

Police said they had found the elaborately illustrated manuscript, a treasured part of Spain's cultural and religious heritage, in a garage near the Galician town.

The cathedral is the reputed burial place of Saint James the Greater, one of Jesus's twelve apostles who, according to tradition, went to Spain to preach Christianity.

The Codex tells the story of how the apostle's remains were transferred to Santiago de Compostela and details the various routes to the town - effectively a guide for early pilgrims.

Earlier dawn raids on properties connected to the detained former church handyman, his wife, son and another woman had led police to the discovery of at least 1.2 million euros ($1.5 million), eight copies of the Codex and other ancient books that had also been stolen from the cathedral.

Officers also found documents and correspondence related to senior church figures and keys to various outbuildings. The cathedral's book of hours, a popular type of devotional book in the Middle Ages, was also recovered.

The main suspect, whom police have not named, is a man who was sacked after working for the cathedral as a freelance handyman and electrician for more than 25 years, police said in a statement.

He was made redundant after faking a work contract to make it look like he had permanent job, and claimed he was owed 40,000 euros for unfair dismissal, the police said. [Reuters]

Facsimile of the codex [}]


  1. He also expressed frustration about the lack of sufficient offers for the Codex at his recent garage sale.

  2. This is why you need to scan your rare and unique texts to the Internet Archive, people. Unless you’re trying to make money off of copies, which they are. In that case, Fuck You.

    Imagine if the guy had stolen it, scanned it, uploaded it, and then put it back!

    1.  I think the real lesson here is that, when you terminate your employees, you should terminate your employees.

    2. > Imagine if the guy had stolen it, scanned it, uploaded it, and then put it back!

      Imagine the damage that would have done to the book.

      I’m married to a book conservator who sometimes works with very old manuscripts and she has words to say about people who scan things without having any idea of how fragile they are.

      1. They make scanners that are specifically for fragile books. And it’s open hardware. But yeah, slapping a codex on a flatbed scanner would get me angry.

  3. this guy had € 1.2Mln in his stash?  one wonders what else this serially-dishonest handyman was up to.

  4. Ok so I grew up catholic and had extensive schooling in medieval history, but the word codex still makes me think of Warhammer(s) and other tabletop game fluff. 

    [did anybody check him for signs of chaos taint?]

  5. The Codex Calixtinus–or Liber Sancti Jacobi / Book of Saint James–, a jewel in medieval bibliography, is one of the richest medieval sources for historians, geographers, musicologists, sociologists, ethnologists, art historians and linguists. Due to its heterogeneous and composite character, this codex is believed to be the work of several authors and compilers. It is known as Codex Calixtinus not because this Pope had been one of its authors but on account of the extraordinary influence that he, his secretary and the people of Cluny had in the gestation of the work.

  6. The Codex is the one of the oldest travel guides. It gives people the routes for “El camino de Santiago “. Emilio Estevez produced a wonderful movie regarding the camino, with his father as the lead, called “The Way” .

  7. Why, after 25 years, did he need to fake a contract to make it look like he had a permanent job? Isn’t 25 years a permanent job?

    1. If they hired him to do handyman and electrical work but so did a bunch of other people then it isn’t.

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