24 March 2010



The "Codex Calixtinus", first guide of the Way of St. James

D. Basilio Losada Castro.
University of Barcelona

Recent work on the so-called Codex Calixtinus and especially the publications of Prof. Manuel Díaz, who died in 2008, Casimiro Torres and Julio Anguita, have highlighted the importance of the five books included in this compilation. We no longer see it fundamentally as a collection of unconnected texts centred on the apostle St. James and his cult in Compostela. Starting from this basis - which was a project of Archbishop Gelmirez, sponsored by Cluny, and with a fundamental partnership of the great Burgundian abbey, for the greater glory of Compostela and the cult of St. James and the pilgrimage - we understand today that in this collection we discover outstanding elements of the cultural life of the 12th century: the passage from monody to polyphony in the musical sphere, the importance of religious lyric as a basis for the creation of a cultured profane lyric, the origins of narrative with the Pseudo-Turpinwhich Menéndez Pelayo recognised as the beginning of chivalric literature, etc.

Since the first transcription of the Latin original (Whitehill, 1927-1942) and the Spanish translation by Abelardo Moralejo, Casimiro Torres and Julio Feo, in 1951, with a reprint in 2004, there has been a succession of programs of study and analyses, with those by Manuel Díaz and Casimiro Torres in the first place, the new Latin transcription made in 1998 by Klaus Herbers and, more recently, the first translations into French (Bernard Gicquel, 2003), into Italian (Vicenza Maria Berardi, 2008) and the recent one into Galician (Xosé López Díaz, 2010), which present us with a joint vision of the Codex Calixtinus and which complete the numerous ancient translations of its three most popular books: the Book of Turpinalready translated into many languages from the 14th century onwards; the Miracles of St. Jameswhich was translated into Galician in the 15th century, and the guide of the Roads to CompostelaThe work of Aimerico Picaud, centred on the French Way, and which has never lost its value, even today, as a historical reference letter . Thus we see in the Calixtinus an exceptional collection that reflects the spirit and the projects of the Compostelan see at the beginning of the change brought about by the Cistercian Order.

Incipit of Book I of the "Codex Calixtinus" (c. 1160)

Incipit of Book I of the "Codex Calixtinus" (c. 1160)