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The Codex Calixtinus (1173)

Notaciones musicales en el códice (ACA,COLECCIONES,Manuscritos,Ripoll,99,f. 32r)

The Codex Calixtinus

The Liber Sancti Jacobi is the name given to the compilation of five textbooks of various kinds (hagiographic, liturgical, homiletic, musical, etc.) related to the apostle Saint James the Great and the pilgrimage to Compostela. Although the exact date and place of its creation are debated, it seems to have been written in France around the year 1140. This compilation is also known as Codex Calixtinus, because it is attributed to Pope Callixtus II, although this name is usually reserved for the manuscript of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (for this reason it is also called Compostelanus). This is usually considered the oldest and most complete of the dozen surviving manuscripts in this collection.

Símbolos del peregrino en el Dietario del General de Cataluña de 1452 (ACA,GENERALITAT,Serie general (N),6,f. 74r)

The Archives of the Crown of Aragon's (ACA) Calixtinus

Of the other known manuscripts of the Liber Sancti Jacobi, the most important is the one from the library of the Ripoll monastery, numbered 99 and preserved in the Archive of the Crown of Aragon. It has always been highly valued for its antiquity—dated from the year 1173—and for its origin: It is, as explained in a letter included at the end of the manuscript, the copy of the "five books that contain miracles of the apostle" (V libros continens de miraculis apostoli) that were kept in the cathedral of Santiago made by a monk of the monastery of Santa María de Ripoll named Arnaldo de Monte during his pilgrimage to Compostela. Due to lack of time, as he explains, he copied the entire second, third (except the end) and fourth books and only extracts from the first and fifth books.

Cuadro "El apóstol Santiago" (1655, Murillo, Museo del Prado)

For a century, scholars have had an extensive debate about whether the codex copied by Arnaldo de Monte in Compostela is the currently existing Codex Calixtinus or Compostelanus, or whether it was an earlier manuscript that is now lost, of which both the Ripoll codex and that of Santiago de Compostela, would be copies. In one of the most recent contributions to this debate and based on a detailed comparative study of the musical passages in the Compostela and Ripoll manuscripts, Verena Förster Binz concludes that the latter is not a copy of the former, nor are they both a copy of the same previous codex that is now lost, but rather that they come from two different textual traditions. Therefore, "Codex Calixtinus is not necessarily prior to Ripoll 99 as it had been considered up to now".

These conclusions further reinforce the importance of this manuscript from the Ripoll collection located in the Archives of the Crown of Aragon in the transmission of the Liber Sancti Jacobi.

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The ACA copy, along with the other Iberian manuscripts of the Liber Sancti Jacobi, have been included by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Register in 2018. For more information


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