Stolen Ancient Spanish Artifact of St. James Found in Handyman's Garage

The Codex Calixtinus, believed to be the first guide of the pilgrimage route to Santiago in Spain, was found Wednesday in a handyman's garage after being stolen more than a year ago from a cathedral.

Police arrested four people in the town of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia suspected to have been involved in the theft. The richly decorated manuscript was stolen from the city's Catholic cathedral over a year ago along with several other valuable books and more than $1.4 million in cash. Among those arrested were a technician and three of his family members, the BBC reported. They are suspected to have taken the Codex Calixtinus from the cathedral's safe box last July. The technician reportedly worked as a handyman at the cathedral and was fired after 25 years of service.

The artifact dates back to around 1150, and was written by Pope Calixtus II. It includes a description of ceremonies of worship and liturgical chants. Its significance to Christians is that it is considered the very first guide used by worshipers making the ancient pilgrimage known as the Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, who was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ.

The codex was originally lost and forgotten for many centuries until it was rediscovered in 1886 by a Jesuit scholar named Padre Fidel Fita. The first full transcript was written by Walter Muir Whitehill in 1932, and it was published in 1944 by the Spanish Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.

Among the five books of the codex is the "Book of the Liturgies," which includes sermons and descriptions of Saint James's martyrdom and official liturgies for his veneration. The "Book of Miracles" covers the 22 miracles in Europe that have been attributed to Saint James. The book "Transfer of the body to Santiago" tells how the apostle's body was transferred from Jerusalem to his tomb in Galicia. The Galicia cathedral is reportedly where Saint James was buried. It is believed he traveled to Spain to evangelize.