Saturday, 9 July 2011

Codex Calixtinus: Crime Scene Investigation

Rebekah Scott said: “I told them not to take it on the bus but would they listen? Noooo.”

After two days, I still can’t believe that the Codex Calixtinus has been stolen from the Archives of Santiago Cathedral. It’s a Dan Brown novel (or a Tracy Saunders one: what AM I thinking!!!).

I am a hypnotherapist, not a psychic, but I do have "antennae" sometimes. If I were investigating this very real “unholy theft” I would aim my questions in these directions:

Whoever stole the book must have know that the security was lax (as is stated almost everywhere in the press). They must also, presumably, have known something about the video camera in surveillance and its times of monitoring the Codex. According to El Pais, it seems one minute it was there and the next it wasn’t. The camera timing and angles appear to be quite strict, but, so says El Pais, the access to the keys is “bastante laxo”: Somewhat relaxed. The keys were found in the lock after the manuscript had been stolen! This seems to be in contrast with other reports I have read which state that only two or three people have access to the treasure. What I have seen of the Archives, it seems very small. I don't know whether the Codex was housed somewhere else or ...?

But, you have to admit, this would point to something of an “in job”, or with the keys still there, someone who wanted to flip the bird...

I would find this almost amusing if it were not for the very serious loss. In St. James’ Rooster, the new book in The Camino Chronicles series which is to be published later this year, I have one of my characters working in the Cathedral archives leaking out certain information he is not supposed to have access to to a university professor on sabattical because he thinks it might get him a better grade in his university degree. I have penetrated the Archives myself in a very modest way. The first time a notable and published scholar who agreed to meet with me was very cagey indeed about my questions of the “pink marble tomb” in the Cathedral which appears on no maps, in no literature, and is virtually hidden in the very east end of the cathedral. But the second time I went I spoke with someone else who was very helpful in most ways (although even he claimed not to have noticed the aforementioned: rather obvious if one is of a inquisitive bent, marble … thing). You can enter the cloisters easily from the Cathedral Museum. You locate the Archives, and push a button at the bottom of the stairs. They let you in, y ya está.

So back to my investigation. CSI: Who would want such a thing? Only a private collector and you can be certain that this was executed on his or her instructions. What kind of private collector? Well, anyone interested on old manuscripts comes to mind for a start. But that just doesn’t ring true enough. Dollar to doughnuts, this collector is a Pilgrim. Yes, I am serious. The Camino de Santiago homogenizes everyone. Why not a millionaire pilgrim? It wouldn’t be for the first time. This is about possession, not money or fame. It would also indicate, to me, that the person who wanted it fell hook, line and sinker for the entire St. James story portrayed so nicely (and falsely ) in this extensive manuscript. Would I look in the direction of the US? Yes, I am sorry to say, I would. Over 40% of visitors to this blog come from North America. But the Camino has a hold over everyone who travels it. I don’t know why. I just know I am one of them.

Would I like my own personal, signed by Diego Gelmirez, first edition copy of the Historia Compostelana?

No, actually. It would worry me to death. And it, like the CC, is to be shared (the oldest known copy is at the University of Salamanca. Tighten your security you guys… One might not be enough!). The idea of such a thing as the Codex becoming part of some Goldfinger’s prized collection makes my blood boil!!!
So, Policia Xunta Galicia, my advice is to check your pilgrim records. Impossible? Probably. What a shame. But I have great faith in forensics these days so maybe.

P.S. I just thought of something: I believe that a cross given to Santiago from Oviedo was stolen many., many years ago. Maybe there is a connection. Either way, I am dying to write the book!

P.P.S. It wasn’t me, officer. I have a nice blue, not even marked up with comments, copy of my own. I wouldn't be able to write notes in the margin of the original so you can cross me off your Usual Suspects list.

More on the CC and its history in the next post then its off to the Camino with me and who knows what adventures may arise….

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