Spanish police have recovered a priceless 12th-century guide to Spain’s Way of Saint James pilgrimage and arrested four people over its theft, officials said Wednesday.
Officers found the unique medieval document, known as the Codex Calixtinus, in a garage near Spain’s holiest city, Santiago de Compostela, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
“The find occurred after the arrest yesterday afternoon of four people linked to its disappearance a year ago,” the ministry said.
Spanish newspapers reported that those arrested included an electrician who previously worked at the cathedral and his wife and son, along with the son’s girlfriend.
The Codex, one of Spain’s greatest cultural treasures, was stolen on July 5, 2011 from the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where it was kept in a secure archive. It consists of 225 pages of parchment inscribed with texts about Saint James and the route of the pilgrimage made in his honour.
The manuscript was named after Pope Calixto II, who promoted the tradition of the pilgrimage in the early 12th century.
It includes the story of how the body of Saint James was supposedly transported from Judea on a raft without oars or sails to Spain.
Officials said at the time there was no sign of a break-in at the 12th-century cathedral, which holds the purported remains of Saint James and has been the destination for pilgrims over the centuries.
Police also reportedly seized €1.2-million ($1.5-million) and other treasures from the cathedral.
After the theft was discovered last year, the cathedral’s dean, Jose Maria Diaz, told reporters that only three people were supposed to have access to the safe – himself and two archivists. Santiago de Compostela became a centre of church power after the purported discovery in the eighth century of the Saint’s remains.