Libraries Acquire Codex Calixtinus Facsimile

May 18, 2004

The Baylor Libraries have acquired a facsimile of the Codex Calixtinus (also known as the Liber sancti Jacobi, or Book of St. James). This work is dated to the 12th century and contains a wealth of materials associated with the cult of the Apostle St. James. The facsimile is in the Crouch Fine Arts Library; patrons should ask at the information desk on the third floor of Moody Library.

Although there survive a substantial number of texts quite similar to this one, all completed, it was believed, under the authority of Pope Calistus II and subsequently dispersed over Europe, this marvelous fine-art facsimile reproduces the most famous manuscript located in the cathedral archive of Santiago de Compostela, explained Dr. Sarah-Jane Murray, assistant professor of medieval literature and French at Baylor.

It was in this small town on the western and Celtic coast of Spain that James's body was buried after his martyrdom. Subsequently, Santiago became the destination of one of the greatest pan-European pilgrimages throughout the Middle Ages, and even in our own times. The pricelessly beautiful Codex Calixtinus is treasured by scholars and students of art history, codicology, Latin medieval literature, hagiography, and medieval music (the codex contains a wealth of musical notation for the many hymns that it contains).

The manuscript itself is divided into five books of unequal length which are devoted, respectively, to:

(I) homilies and sermons in honor of St. James, including liturgical offices related to his cult;

(II) the narration of 22 miracles associated with St. James;

(III) the brief yet fascinating account of the translation of James's body from Jerusalem to Galicia;

(IV) the Pseudo-Turpin, believed to have been composed by the Archbishop Turpin and recounting his eye-witness of Charlemagne's battle against the Moors in Spain;

(V) and, finally, a travel-guide for pilgrims making their way to Galicia in order to visit the Apostle's tomb.