Arguably the most hallowed book in Spain’s history has vanished without a trace under high security in the country’s north-east.
The priceless Codex Calixtinus led pilgrims to the remains of one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles, Saint James, via a route known as ‘the way of St. James’.
St. James’ remains became a symbol to unify Christian Spain at a time when the Muslim Moors confined the Christians to the northern part of the peninsula.
The book, believed to have been written sometime during the 1130s, was kept in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in north-west Spain.
The sacred codex was only revealed to the public on special occasions, such as Pope Benedict XVI’s visit late last year. Cathedral staff have also said the book was kept in a room which only several people had access to.
A now severely anxious local community have dubbed the incident “the theft of the century”, as no sign of a break-in has been detected. Councillor for culture in Santiago’s city hall, Angel Curras, says the book has “incalculable value”.
The 225 page guide consists of a collection of sermons, homilies to St. James and advice to pilgrims on making the journey. Each year, an estimated 100,000 pilgrims visit St. James’ remains, which were allegedly discovered by a hermit in 813.
While the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is noted for its stringent security measures, leading to its choice as book guardian, a rumour is presently circling the provence that procedures there might not be what they once were.
Local fruit peddler, Diego Francisco Cebolla, claims a young British lad passed through town, was dismayed at the lack of guide books in the area, and staggered into the cathedral drunk before helping himself to the sacred document.
Spanish authorities have since found a meat pie wrapper, Manchester United flag and Special Brew cans at the site of St. James’ remains, but not a trace of the codex. The search continues.