llluminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible

“This is a work of art, a great work of art ... a work for eternity.”
Pope Benedict XVI in praise of The Saint John’s Bible

Opening on June 2 and continuing through October 2014 at the Knights of Columbus Museum, Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible showcases the first handwritten and hand-illustrated Bible to be commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in 500 years.

Illuminating the Word presents 68 original pages from all seven volumes of The Saint John’s Bible along with tools, sketches, materials and rare books.

Beginning in 1996, the community of Saint John’s Abbey and University started planning and working on The Saint John’s Bible. The work of creating the Bible was directed by a committee of theologians, artists and scholars known as the Committee on Illumination and Text. The actual pages were created by a team of 23 professional scribes, artists and assistants in a scriptorium in Wales, under the artistic direction of renowned Western calligrapher Donald Jackson.

This unique undertaking combines a centuries-old tradition of craftsmanship with the latest capabilities of computer technology and electronic communication. The words are handwritten on vellum (calfskin) using hand-cut quills fashioned from turkey, swan or goose feathers, and ancient inks hand-ground from natural minerals and stones such as lapis lazuli, malachite and vermillion. The pages are illuminated with the brilliance of 24-karat gold leaf, silver leaf and platinum. The complete work includes 1,127 handwritten pages and more than 160 major artworks.

This exhibition is made possible through the collaborative efforts with the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) at Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minn.