When you Visit Galicia

By: Scott James

Well this is an interesting one. OK, so people reading this article will know about the da Vinci code. Hey it's a best-selling novel that has been on the bookshelves of virtually every airport departure lounge for the last two to three years and who hasn't heard about it.

OK, so what about this other code?

What basically the Codex Calixtinus is a 12th-century illuminated manuscript that has been formerly attributed to Pope Callixtus II of historians reckon upon reflection but now it is believed that the Codex was arranged by the French scholar Aymeric Picaud.

As in all cases of this type of manuscript the principle author is known rather dramatically as Scriptor I.

So what exactly is the Codex? Well basically it was intended as an anthology of background detail and advice for pilgrims travelling the way of St. James to the shrine of the Apostle St. James the Great which as we all know is at a site in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

So in a nutshell it is technically a medieval version of a Michelin Guide if that isn't being too irreverent.

The Codex is alternatively known as the "Liber Sancti Jacobi" or the book of St. James. The Codex includes sermons, reports of miracles and liturgical text all associated with St. James. It also includes descriptions of the route or various routes that the pilgrims or travellers would take on the pilgrimage and it describes in some detail the various works of art that can be seen along the way and the various customs of the many different local people that the travellers would come into contact with.

The Codex calyx pin is written by a number of different losses come upon old effectively as a single volume probably sometime between 1130 and 1140 AD. The twist to the whole story lies in the fact that in order to try and gain some form of authority for their work, the authors prefaced the book with a forged letter that was purportedly signed by Pope Callixtus II. the problem with this whole aspect of the story and really the one that I guess probably casts a shadow over the entire codex is that Pope Callixtus II actually died in 1124 AD and the Codex was not effectively started until six years later in 1130.

It is a bit of a problem really but not one that could certainly get in the way of a good historical document! Such is life.

The earliest known edition of the Codex is actually held in the archives of the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela and this it is estimated, dates from about 1150.

Again, as with all great historical works and documents it was actually lost and forgotten about for many years until rediscovered in 1886 by the Jesuit scholar P. Fidel Fita.

Yet another reason, as if one was needed, to visit Santiago de Compostela and actually try and appreciate some living history.

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