September 26, 2016
Michelle Adams O'Regan
Communications and Marketing
In the late 1990s, the Benedictine Saint John's University and Abbey commissioned Donald Jackson, master calligrapher and Chief Scribe to Queen Elizabeth II, to create the first hand-illuminated Bible in 500 years. The work was conceived of as a "gift to the world" in celebration of the approaching new millennium. It was to link the human hand with the word of God, and to capture the magnificent story of humanity with a modern vision.
The manuscript was created using medieval methods and materials including calfskin vellum, goose quills and handmade inks, gold, platinum and silver. The illuminations illustrate biblical themes through a lens of modern theological and global issues, incorporating many scientific and historical references into the visual design, and utilizing divergent styles of traditional and more contemporary art throughout.
The original has been on view at Saint John's University in Minnesota since it was finished in May 2011. Scholars have compared the scope of achievement to that of The Sistine Chapel, and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI stated, "This is a work of art, a great work of art...a work for eternity."
Part of the project was the creation of a fine-art printed edition called "The Heritage Edition," which was designed to bring this monumental work of sacred art to the world. This edition is limited to 299 sets of seven books.
This year, the Geisel Library will display one of the seven volumes of the Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition as Saint Anselm College participates in the program, "A Year with The Saint John's Bible." The volume, Gospels and Acts, is a richly illustrated facsimile of the original Bible manuscript. Gospels and Acts will be on display on the main floor of the Geisel Library beginning September 30, and will remain until October 2017.
"The Saint John's Bible is a unique bibliographic project that combines traditional and contemporary illumination and print processes," says Keith Chevalier, archivist and head of Special Collections. "Concurrent to exhibiting and providing access to the sixth volume of the Heritage Edition, the Geisel Library will have the opportunity to bring to light some of the treasures of Special Collections through displays and presentations showcasing our collection of manuscript leaves, early printed books, and the Dr. F. Marc LaForce '60 collection of Book of Hours facsimiles."
Programming and events related to The Bible will be held on campus throughout the year, beginning with a lecture by Father Michael Patella, O.S.B., a Benedictine monk of Saint John's Abbey and a professor of New Testament at the Saint John's School of Theology and Seminary, on November 10. The lecture will be held in the New Hampshire Institute of Politics Auditorium at 7 p.m. Father Michael's visit is in conjunction with the reading of the Gospel of Saint Luke in Conversatio. All campus community members are invited to attend.
"What I love about The Saint John's Bible is that it is a compelling Benedictine work that can bring together many different areas of the college," says Bro. Isaac Murphy, O.S.B. vice president for Academic Affairs. "This fine press rare book supports the curriculum, both for Conversatio and Biblical Literacy, but also engages the Fine Arts, plays off nicely with some aspects of the permanent collections of both the Chapel Art Center and the Geisel Library, and, as the inspired Word of God, this volume of sacred scripture will provide a profoundly spiritual and Christocentric focus for campus life over the course of this academic year."
The Bible may be scheduled by faculty to use in classes hosted in the library. Contact Archivist and Head of Special Collections, Keith Chevalier, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 656-6197 for more details.
Saint John's Bible books, cards and gifts are available for purchase through Campus Ministry. Please contact Sue Gabert, Director, at email@example.com or (603) 641-7231 for further information.
- The Saint John's Bible Web site »
- "New Testament Scholar Lectures on The Saint John's Bible" »
- Saint John's Abbey »
- Donald Jackson Biography on The Saint John's Bible Web site »
- The Saint John's Bible Channel on Youtube »
- Father Michael Patella, O.S.B. Interview »
Image: Pentecost, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John's Bible, Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.