La corónica February 26, 1998
IN RECENT YEARS there has been increasing interest in the cult of St. James and the pilgrimage to Compostela, bolstered in no small part by the efforts of Davidson and Dunn. These scholars have provided Santiago enthusiasts, be they specialists or amateurs, with a wealth of materials to aid in their pursuits, most notably: Pilgrimage in the Middle Ages: A Research Guide (Garland, 1993); The Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela: A Comprehensive, Annotated Bibliography (Garland, 1994); and The Pilgrimage to Compostela in the Middle Ages: A Book of Essays (Garland, 1996). Special attention has been given to the Codex Calixtinus, the twelfth-century manuscript of the Liber Sancti Jacobi held at the Cathedral Archives in Compostela. The last decade alone has seen the publication of over twenty book-length studies of various aspects of the Codex as well as the release of over fifteen recordings of music related to it.
In 1993 William Melczer published The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela (Italica Press), an outstanding translation of the fifth book of the Codex accompanied by copious ancillary materials (an extensive introduction, detailed commentaries, a hagiographical register, a gazetteer). This major contribution to Codex studies is now complimented by the translations of Davidson, Dunn, and Coffey. I emphasize the plural, translations, as this volume contains not only the second book of the Codex recounting twenty-two miracles of St. James, but also the introductory letter ascribed to Pope Calixtus II, and the sermon known by its opening words “Veneranda dies” (Book I, Chapter 17 of the Codex). The translators chose these materials in order to "give the reader a good understanding of the saint's miracles, as the compiler would have his audience know them (xiv).
While Davidson, Dunn, and Coffey do not specify the audience they envision for their translation, the materials included in the introduction and the notes indicate a general audience of non-specialists in medieval or hagiographic studies. The well-documented introduction summarizes existing scholarship, and will serve as an excellent starting point for those wishing to study St. James and his pilgrimage as well as the Codex. The authors review in detail various aspects related to the saint: the growth and popularity of the cult of St. James through the nineteenth century; the history of Compostela and its development of pilgrimage industries; the concept and practice of pilgrimage and types of pilgrims; the celebration of feast days. They then turn to questions pertaining to the Liber itself, focusing especially on the materials translated in the volume. There is a brief consideration of the style and the dubious authorship of the introductory letter as well as an examination of the “Veneranda dies,” shows that the text follows the precepts of the artes praedicandi. Particular attention is rightly given to the saint's miracles. In order to determine the factors that unify the collection, the authors offer an extensive discussion (accompanied by useful charts and maps) of the authorship, chronology, and typology of the miracles; the nationalities, ages, and sexes of their recipients; and the sites of the miraculous events. They conclude that it is primarily the concept of pilgrimage itself that gives structure and coherence to the text.
The translation is based on the transcription by Walter Muir Whitehill, corrected by the 1993 facsimile of the Codex. The translators have rendered the text into fluent, readable English, always attempting to preserve the flavor of the Latin original.... The volume also includes a useful bibliography.
...The Miracles of Saint James represents a significant contribution to the study of the saint's cult and pilgrimage, for it makes this important collection of miracles accessible to a broad audience. Owing to the general scope of the introduction and the clarity of the translation itself, teachers of hagiography will find this volume especially appropriate for their students."
— Jane E. Connolly, University of Miami
THE TWENTY-TWO MIRACLES associated with St. James from Book II of the Codex Calixtinus are given here in English translation plus the seventeenth chapter of Book I of the Codex Calixtinus. The introduction analyses the types, places and recipients of the miracles and discusses the appearances of St. James in these stories. Included are extensive notes, a bibliography and an index.