Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Codex Calixtinus is Missing

What an odd thing to steal. The Codex Calixtinus, a guide to the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage dating back to the twelfth century, is missing from the safety deposit box at a Spanish cathedral in which it normally resides.

The manuscript is a collection of sermons and liturgical texts and served as a guide for the historical Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, which dates back to the Middle Ages.

The elaborately illustrated document disappeared from a safe deposit box in the cathedral last week.

Its suspected theft, only reported to police Wednesday, is considered a major loss for Spain's cultural and religious heritage.

Santiago Cathedral is the reputed burial place of Saint James the Greater, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ who according to legend arrived in Spain to preach Christianity.

The Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage is also known as the Way of Saint James and has been undertaken by Christians for more than a thousand years. The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the manuscript was kept prior to its disappearance, is its final destination.

The Way can take one of any number of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Way of Saint James began at one's home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly traveled. However, the Black Death, the Protestant Reformation and political unrest in 16th-century Europe led to its decline. By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims arrived in Santiago annually. Since then however the route has attracted a growing number of modern-day pilgrims from around the globe. The route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987; it was also named one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

Unique art or spiritual objects like the Codex are rarely stolen simply because they cannot be sold on the open market despite their theoretical value, and even if a collector could purchase such an item in a private sale he or she could never display it because it would be immediately recognized. There are very few wealthy collectors in the world who are willing to buy things that they can never show off or sell to anyone else. Given that the Codex was removed from a safe deposit box leaving no signs of forced entry, the logical conclusion would be that this was some sort of inside job. Who would want to steal the text, though, remains a mystery.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

No comments: