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Santiago Codex Calixtinus, Priceless Stolen Book, Found In Handyman's Garage

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A priceless 12th-century illuminated manuscript stolen from the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and considered one of Spain's most treasured cultural and religious treasures, was found in the garage of a former employee, according to news reports.

The Codex Calixtinus, believed to be the first guidebook for religious pilgrims to Santiago, disappeared almost exactly a year ago from the cathedral in Galicia in northern Spain, according to the BBC. It had been locked in a closely guarded room accessible by only a few people.

A collection of sermons and liturgical passages, the codex was used by pilgrims to Santiago, the reputed burial place of St. James the Greater, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. Tradition says that he went to Spain to preach Christianity and is buried in Santiago. The codex, which is comprised of five volumes, tells how the apostle's remains were transferred to Santiago de Compostela, and also outlines for pilgrims the various routes to the city.

The stolen codex is thought to date from around 1150 and is so famous that it would have been unsellable on the open market without alerting the police.

The Guardian reports that police arrested a freelance handyman and electrician who worked at the cathedral for 25 years before being fired for forging a work contract. The man claimed he was owed more than $50,000 for unfair dismissal. His name has not been released; three of his relatives also were arrested.

Besides the codex, police also found other old books stolen from the cathedral, including its book of hours, a popular type of devotional book in the Middle Ages. Also recovered were keys to nearby buildings, documents related to church officials and the equivalent of at least $1.5 million in euros.

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