Theft of the Codex Calixtinus (Dennis Aubrey)

Things have been too hectic to write recently, but this news must be communicated. The priceless Codex Calixtinus has been stolen from the archives of Santiago de Compostella. This illuminated manuscript is the oldest known guide to the pilgrimage to Santiago in the Middle Ages.  It is generally ascribed to Aymeric Picaud, a French scholar from Parthenay-le-Vieux in the Poitou region of France.  Picaud’s work is integral to our work at Via Lucis, providing much of the information available on the medieval pilgrimage churches on the different routes across France and Spain.

Codex Calixtinus


Here is an article in the Guardian about the theft.

6 responses to “Theft of the Codex Calixtinus (Dennis Aubrey)

    • Lewis, it is completely shameful, this kind of looting. PJ and I visited the small town of Thoisy-le-Désert in the Côte-d’Or in order to photograph their celebrated Black Madonna. Because the church was locked I walked a few hundred yards to the group of nearby buildings. Some of the townspeople were setting up for some kind of civic picnic event so I stopped to ask where I could get the key. They said that the church was locked for the last seven years since someone stole the Madonna. As they were talking to me, people started crying, men and women both. The theft of their beloved Vierge took the heart right out of the community. This has happened over and over in rural France.

  1. I travelled this path from the Pyrenees and I can tell you that you will find no more dedicated followers than those that walk this path annually. Theft has deprived a much larger community than anyone could ever imagine.

    • Gordon, had no idea that you did the pilgrimage. Did you travel the Camino Francés from France to Santiago? Did you walk, bicycle, drive? Would love to hear more of your experiences.

  2. I am trying to reach Dennis Aubrey about a wood Madonna which I inherited in the 60’s. She is somewhat primitive and a Madonna del Latte showing one bare breast. 50 years ago I saw a similar piece in the NYC Cloisters and was told that only in the 12th century did Madonnas be show with only one breast. I now can find NO ONE to coraborate this. I find most ‘experts’ do not know that much and was told by a top NY gallery that she was 17th century. I since then found out about the Council of Trent ruling (16th century) that no Madonnas be shown bare-breasted from then on. So much for the experts. Can you help me find out about my Madonnas origin? I would be most appreciative. Can I send you a photo? If so please send me an address. Thanks so much!

    • Pat, this was a very interesting query. I am certainly not a scholar or expert, but I can provide the following information.

      First, I think that the information provided by the Cloisters was erroneous. I do not know of any bare-breasted madonnas prior to the 14th Century or so (the earliest of which I am personally aware is the “La Madonna del latte”of San Bernardo in Monte Carasso, and the “Madonna del’latte”, Ambrogio Lorenzetti c. 1330). There seemed to be a Tuscan movement of these images in the 14th Century. The madonnas that we shoot are very hieratic and for the most part not naturalistic at all. Later, the introduction of the Renaissance Madonna and Child and the Mater Dolorosa stressed the humanity of the sacred subjects. I believe that it was about this time that the subject of the Madonna del Latte became more generally common.

      The rulings of the Council of Trent in 1563 was primarily in response to the pressures of the Protestant Reformation. After that, for some period, these images were discouraged. I don’t know if they were ever eradicated. There are, however, certainly examples of these Madonnas after the Council of Trent.

      Please feel free to send me a picture and I’ll try to help you find more information among my contacts in the field.

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