Codex Calixtinus

Alternate Titles:

Codex Calixtinus de la Universidad de Salamanca, Codex Calixtinus of the University of Salamanca, Liber Sancti Jacobi

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Codex Calixtinus de la Universidad de Salamanca
Codex Calixtinus of the University of Salamanca
Liber Sancti Jacobi

Extent / Format

246 pages / 33.1 x 24.5 cm

Origin
Date
Around 1325
Style
Genre
Language

Short description

For a considerable time, a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela has enjoyed considerable vogue and popularity. Yet this tradition of the pilgrims to the grave of St. James in the most northwestern part of Spain goes back to the 9th century. An official pilgrimage guide and fundament from the 12th century for the great cult around James the Elder is the so-called Liber Sancti Iacobi, also known as the Codex Calixtinus. The oldest example of this codex is found today in Santiago. Nevertheless, there is a precious copy of this manuscript from the 14th century stored in the Universidad de Salamanca. The liturgical texts, miracle stories, songs, and the medieval pilgrimage guide in particular allow the magic of this location – around the tomb of St. James – to still be comprehended today and allows us to understand why a pilgrimage to Santiago de Campostela has exerted such a great fascination over the centuries.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Codex Calixtinus

For a considerable time, a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela has enjoyed considerable vogue and popularity. Yet this tradition of the pilgrims to the grave of St. James in the most northwestern part of Spain goes back to the 9th century. An official pilgrimage guide and fundament from the 12th century for the great cult around James the Elder is the so-called Liber Sancti Iacobi, also known as the Codex Calixtinus. The oldest example of this codex is found today in Santiago. Nevertheless, there is a precious copy of this manuscript from the 14th century stored in the Universidad de Salamanca. The liturgical texts, miracle stories, songs, and the medieval pilgrimage guide in particular allow the magic of this location – around the tomb of St. James – to still be comprehended today and allows us to understand why a pilgrimage to Santiago de Campostela has exerted such a great fascination over the centuries.

A Papal Document?

The Codex Calixtinus from Salamanca is one of five remaining manuscripts with the complete text of the Liber Sancti Iacobi. Alongside the oldest 12th century “original” in Santiago de Compostela and the 14th century copy in Salamanca, yet more example exist in the British Library, in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, and in the Spanish National Library in Madrid. The famous Codex Calixtinus gained its name from the original ascription of the text to Pope Calixtus II** (1119-1124). The texts probably originated from high-ranking clerics, including Aimeric Picaud, who delivered the codex to Santiago. Many legends and secrets wrap themselves around the book about St. James that were closely associated with the cult of St. James the Elder throughout the Middle Ages and are up to today.

Exciting Legends and a Medieval Guidebook

According to the New Testament, James the Elder was the brother of John the Evangelist and one of the Disciples of Christ. He received martyrdom in the year 44. The legend of the transfer of his corpse to Spain, which founded the fame of Santiago de Compostela, has existed since the 9th century.
An official basis for the cult of James, which enjoyed great fame, was accomplished in the 12th century with the Liber Sancri Iacobi. The collected manuscript contained texts, prayers, and hymns for mass, 22 miracle stories about St. James, the story of the transfer of his corpse to Santiago, and an appendix with special, polyphonic songs. The most famous part of the codex is nevertheless a **pilgrimage guide, in which the various ways to Santiago de Compostela are described in detail and a manual was given to the pilgrims.

St. James and Charlemagne

The Codex Calixtinus is historically significant with regard to Charlemagne. The manuscript contains namely a historically significant 12th century forgery: the famous text of the so-called Pseudo-Turpin, also known as the Historia Karoli Magni et Rotholandi. This consisted of a collection of legends about the Spanish campaign of Charlemagne masquerading as the chronicle of Bishop Turpin of Rheims, a contemporary of Charlemagne. This was already exposed as a forgery in the 15th century. The Historia enjoyed great popularity and wide circulation in all of Europe and exercised various influences on art and literature.
Thus the Codex Calixtus contains biblical representations of this story about Charlemagne with Roland and Turpin alongside a miniature of James as a pilgrim. Both the great, luminous, brightly-colored design of the miniatures as well as the historically significant text of the codex originating from Salamanca in 1325 grant a wonderful glimpse in the world of medieval pilgrimages and stories.

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