The Saint John’s Bible

A Handcrafted Heritage

Saint Luke’s is blessed to be the steward of a handcrafted Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible, the first handwritten, illuminated Bible of its scale in more than 500 years. Our copy – number 119 – was given to Saint Luke’s in 2022 in memory of longtime beloved parishioner, Darunee Wilson, by her family.

The Saint John’s Bible Origins

Creation of this unique Bible was sponsored by Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota. The project’s mission was to ignite the spiritual imagination of people around the world by the creation of this unique Bible. World-renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson, the Senior Scribe to England’s Royal Family, was the artistic director. He oversaw a group of six calligraphers and six artists who labored 11 years to write each word by hand and illuminate the pages with stunning works of art.

The calligraphers hand-wrote all 1,150 pages on approximately 300 sheets of calfskin vellum, using traditional turkey, swan and goose quills. Each page of calligraphy took 8-12 hours to produce. To create the dazzling illuminations, the artists used cakes of pigment mixed with egg yolk, following medieval tradition, to create the colors. Gold leaf was used to bring the art to life.

A Modern Bible

While following traditional techniques, The Saint John’s Bible is very much a Bible for our times. It uses the widely accepted New Revised Standard translation of the scriptures. It is committed to honoring women, communities of color, and science. Strands of DNA are woven into the illumination of the “Genealogy of Christ.” The Twin Towers in New York appear in the illumination of Luke’s parables. Satellite photos of the Ganges River Delta and photos from the Hubble telescope are used to depict Creation.

In order to share the beauty and inspiration of this unique Bible with more people, 299 copies were made. Donald Jackson insisted that they be near exact replicas of the original – down to the weight and feel of the pages, the colors used in printing, and the use of gold embossing, hand burnished to replicate the play of light that is so spectacular in the original.

We encourage groups to visit Saint Luke’s Parish to view the calligraphy and illuminations. Our docents can offer a presentation on the making of this Bible and show visitors highlights.

Call the main office of Saint Luke’s Parish at 203-655-1456 to arrange a visit Monday-Friday.