Mater Christi Students View the St. John’s Bible at Champlain College

May 12, 2015

St. John's Bible Tre and AlexOn Friday, May 8, the MCS eighth graders with their religion teacher, Julia Melloni, art teacher, Hannah Robertson, and a member the Mater Christi School Spiritual Committee, Elisa Ferguson, walked over to Champlain College to view the St. John’s Bible. They were met at the Champlain College’s Miller Information Commons by Dr. Rowshan Nemazee, Assistant Professor at the College, who encouraged the students to turn the pages and examine closely the art work, much of which was done in gold and silver leaf.

While examining the Old Testament section with the students, Dr. Nemazee reminded them of the common traditions shared in the Hebrew Scriptures by Christians, Jews and Muslims. Several minutes were also spent interpreting some of the art symbolism and the scripture stories.

Since January, Champlain College has been hosting this Heritage Edition of the Saint John’s Bible, a copy of the first hand-written and hand-illuminated Bible commissioned by Benedictine monks since medieval times. Back in 1970, master calligrapher Donald Jackson expressed his hope of someday creating an illuminated Bible. Over 20 years later, he discussed a handwritten Bible with Fr. Eric Hollas, OSB, former executive director of the Hill

Stephen Mease Photography

Stephen Mease Photography

Museum & Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. Between 1996 and 1997, Saint John’s explored the feasibility of the Bible project, Jackson created first samples, and theologians developed the illumination schema. The Saint John’s Bible was officially commissioned in 1998 and production was completed in 2011.

The Saint John’s Bible is two feet tall by three feet wide when open. The Bible is made of vellum, with 160 illuminations, and cost an estimated $8 million to produce. A copy of the Bible has been presented to Pope Francis in several volumes, with the final volume being presented on April 17, 2015.

The visiting students and adults from Mater Christi School were awed by the beauty of The Saint John’s Bible and by the fact that monks half a world away in Wales had spent 13 years producing it.

Sister Joanne LaFreniere, RSM
Director of Public Relations and Spiritual Life