Marquette University News Release

Illuminated St. John’s Bible to be on view at Marquette University

February 1, 2011

MILWAUKEE — Marquette University will make a Heritage Edition, or replica, of the Saint John’s Bible, a handwritten, hand-illuminated Bible, available for public viewing during the university’s annual Mission Week, Feb. 6—11. Its initial presentation is scheduled for the Mission Week Mass, 4 p.m. February 6 in Church of the Gesu.

Marquette will display the four volumes of the Heritage Edition of the St. John’s Bible in a special exhibit in the rotunda of the Alumni Memorial Union, 1442 W. Wisconsin Ave., from 7 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. Feb. 6—11.

The original Saint John’s Bible is a seven-volume, one-of-a-kind work housed at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. It was commissioned in 1998 by the university and its Benedictine monks and took 10 years to handwrite and illuminate.

On Monday, Feb. 7, at 11:30 a.m., Rev. Eric Hollas, O.S.B., a regent from St. John’s University who was instrumental in initiating the St. John’s Bible project, will join Susan Wood, SCL, chair and professor of Marquette’s Department of Theology, and Matt Blessing, head of Marquette’s Special Collections and University Archives, in the ballrooms of the Alumni Memorial Union to discuss the creation and importance of the St. John’s Bible. Father Hollas will also lead an evening of prayer and reflection with scriptures being read from the St. John’s bible Monday night at 7 p.m. in Chapel of the Holy Family, located in the union.

The Heritage Edition is a full-size reproduction of the original comprising 160 illuminations on custom-made paper. Only four volumes of the edition are currently available. Donald Jackson, senior scribe in Queen Elizabeth II’s Crown Office in London, was art director of the project and supervised a team of scribes, artists and craftspeople from around the world. The group used calfskin vellum; hand-cut goose quills; paints hand ground from minerals and stone, such as lapis lazuli, vermilion and malachite; and silver, copper and 24-karat gold leaf to create the work.

“We are very fortunate — in our digital era — that there is an occasion to welcome a hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible,” Raynor Memorial Libraries Dean Janice Welburn said. “Inspired by the devotion of the monks of Saint John’s Abbey, Donald Jackson and his team of artists and scholars have produced a remarkable and timeless work, a multivolume Bible that is, in the words of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, ‘a work for eternity.’ ”

After Mission Week, the Heritage Edition — which includes the Pentateuch, Historical Books, Wisdom Books, Psalms, Prophets, Gospels and Acts, and Letters and Revelation — will be preserved and permanently displayed in the Prucha Archives Reading Room on the third floor of the Raynor Memorial Libraries. A different illumination will be presented each day. The university will purchase the remaining three volumes of the edition as they become available in 2011—12, according to Welburn.

 

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