Monday 18 December 2017

Priceless, stolen guide for Santiago pilgrims found in shed

Fiona Govan in Madrid

A PRICELESS 12th-century illustrated guide for pilgrims has been recovered by police a year after it was stolen from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.

The Codex Calixtinus, an elaborate medieval manuscript and one of Spain's most valuable cultural artefacts, was discovered hidden in the garage of a former employee of the cathedral.

The suspected thief, named as Manuel FernandezCastineiras, had worked as a caretaker and odd-job man for more than 25 years at the shrine of the apostle St James but was sacked early last year.

He had been suing cathedral authorities for unfair dismissal at the time of the theft on July, 5, 2011.

Police arrested Mr Fernandez -- and his wife, son and son's girlfriend, who are suspected to be co-conspirators -- late on Tuesday.

In raids on properties owned by those arrested, police discovered at least €1.2m in cash, eight copies of the codex and other ancient books that had also disappeared from the cathedral archive.

The 225-page codex -- a collection of texts including sermons, homilies to St James and travel advice, leading it to be labelled the Western world's first "guidebook" -- was rarely shown in public.

The cathedral is the reputed burial place of St James the Greater, one of the 12 apostles, who, according to tradition, went to Spain to preach Christianity.

The theft of the manuscript was called "the theft of the century" by Spanish media, and experts feared that the codex may have been stolen to order for a private collector. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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