The completed St. John’s Bible is unveiled

Can we get an “Amen?”

After 15 years of painstaking calligraphy and illumination by an international team of artists, the St. John’s Bible is complete.


Detail from Letter to the Seven Churches with the Heavenly Choir, Donald Jackson, 2011. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota.

In the tradition of medieval Bibles, The Saint John’s Bible is two feet tall and three feet wide when opened. It’s bound in seven distinct volumes. It is the first handwritten bible to be commissioned by a Benedectine Monastery in more than 500 years.

Starting tomorrow, visitors to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts can see excerpts from the final volume, which comprises the Book of Letters and the Book of Revelation.


Detail from Valley of the Dry Bones, The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota

The St. John’s Bible was written and drawn entirely by hand by a team of 23 professional scribes, artists and assistants, using quills and paints hand-ground from precious minerals and stones such as lapis lazuli, malachite, silver, and 24-karat gold.

The project was conceived and overseen by Donald Jackson, one of the world’s foremost calligraphers and Senior Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office at the House of Lords.

“Now that I have inscribed the final Amen, I realise that over the long years of this task, a boyhood dream, I have gradually absorbed an enduring conviction of the pin-sharp relevance of these ancient Biblical Texts to the past, present and the future of our personal and public life and experience,” Jackson said in a release. “These texts have a life of their own and their life is a mirror of the human spirit and experience.”


Wisdom Woman, The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota.

You can read about Minnesota calligrapher Diane von Arx’s participation in illuminating the bible here.

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