Providence to Display Saint John’s Bible


On March 13–14, Providence University College will be providing an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and members of the community to check out the Saint John’s Bible at their Otterburne campus.

Just what is the Saint John’s Bible? Simply put, it’s the first handwritten and hand-illustrated Benedictine-commissioned Bible produced since the invention of the moveable type printing press in the 1450s. Smithsonian Magazine has described as “one of the extraordinary undertakings of our times.”

The original Bible is kept in display at the Alcuin Library of Saint John’s University in Minnesota. Providence will display a Heritage Edition—true to scale at two feet by three feet when open and printed on 100 percent uncoated cotton paper.

In addition to seeing the Bible itself, Providence will host an information session to introduce and discuss the exhibit. Three sessions will be held over the two-day event. 

“The Saint John’s Bible is a stunning work of text, interpretation, and aesthetic,” explains Dr. John Stafford, a previous professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Providence and one the exhibit’s organizers. “It was completed over 16 years under the oversight of St. John’s University in St. Cloud, Minnesota as well as the Benedictine community and master artists and calligraphers. Encountering this compelling manuscript is a rare opportunity.” 

The Bible was produced by expert calligraphers and illuminators in Monmouth, Wales, in tandem with a team of scholars at Saint John’s University.

Master calligrapher Donald Jackson, official scribe and calligrapher to the Crown Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, approved each Heritage Edition page, and his artists completed touch-ups by hand. Gold and silver foils were applied by stamping and embossing, and binding was completed by hand using Italian calfskin leather. 

“Not only is the Saint John’s Bible a feast for the eyes, but it also honours the history of Bible production and encourages us to spend time with biblical text,” says Terry Kennedy, Director of Library Services at Providence. “In a hurried world, it asks us to reflect on biblical text through art, and to appreciate the history of manuscript production.”

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