Saturday, July 7, 2012

Recovered codex

Santiago de Compostela is the capital of Galicia, Spain, and the site of a Roman Catholic cathedral to which many have made a pilgrimage.* Inside that cathedral is a historic text, a 12th c. illuminated manuscript considered one of the country's cultural treasures. The Codex Calixtinus (2nd image), believed to be the 1st guide for those making the pilgrimage, includes practical advice for pilgrims, descriptions of the route and the local customs, and a set of polyphonic musical pieces. But the 225-page book on display in a glass case (1st image) is only a replica. The original - brought out for special occasions - was stored in a safe in the archive room, under the protection of an alarm, a fire-prevention system, and 5 security cameras. That is why, with no signs of a break-in, police knew it had to be an inside job when the cathedral's dean Jose Maria Diaz realized it had been missing for possibly a year. On Tuesday of last week, the theft was discovered and the authorities were contacted. On Wednesday, a man with a grievance who had worked as a caretaker and electrician for the cathedral for more than 25 years was arrested with 3 others, including his wife and son. And on Thursday, a raid of the former employee's property nearby found €1.2 million ($1.5 million/£950,000) in cash, keys to various church buildings, church documents, a Book of Hours, 8 copies of the Codex, and - at last - the priceless original.

*Including my friend Jody, by bike.
Previous posts set in the Middle Ages:

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