By the Rev. Kate E. Wesch

St. John’s has received an incredible gift, a special fine art reproduction of The Saint John’s Bible, the first completely handwritten illuminated Bible.

This edition, commissioned in 1998 by the Benedictine monastery of Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota, is based on the original Saint John’s Bible manuscript, consisting of 1,150 pages in seven distict volumes and measuring more than 2 feet 3 inches tall. The original is on display at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library on Saint John’s University’s campus.

St. John’s received one of only 299 Heritage Editions of The Saint John’s Bible as a gift from a generous parishioner who wishes to remain anonymous. The special edition Bible, now a part of St. John’s permanent collection, took 23 artists and calligraphers more than a decade to finish, in 2011.

From September 2022 through August 2023, St. John’s participated in a program called A Year with The Saint John’s Bible. During that time, we had two volumes of the Bible: Gospels & Acts and the Pentateuch. These volumes were returned in August at the conclusion of a very successful year. In September 2023, we launched A Year in the Bible with more than 100 people signed up to read the Bible together cover to cover by August 2024.

In the past three years, Bible Study attendance has increased from a handful of people studying the readings for the upcoming Sunday, to approximately 50 people attending one of three weekly Bible studies. The study of scripture when practiced alongside faithful worship transforms individuals and community in profound ways. This incredible gift of The Saint John’s Bible will enhance our life together and benefit this parish for 1,000 years as it continually invites us to listen for God in its pages.

The donor wishes to remain anonymous so the focus can be on the art and beauty of the Bible itself as it invites us into deeper relationship with God and one another. The Bible is best when studied in community and the sheer size of The Saint John’s Bible requires that. As we prepare for a new year and a new liturgical season, I invite you to give thanks for this amazing gift and delight in it.

Decoration, Facing Page,Donald Jacksonwith contributions from Sally Mae Joseph, Copyright 2002,TheSaint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville,Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.