by Dennis Dalman
Pope Francis, once again, had another glimpse of The Saint John’s Bible when it was presented to the U.S. Library of Congress last week during the pope’s visit to Washington, D.C.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis was presented a copy of The Saint John’s Bible when a delegation from St. John’s University traveled to the Vatican in Rome to present the historic book. This particular edition of The Saint John’s Bible is known as the Apostles’ Edition. It’s one of only 12 sets.
When the pope saw the book with others, he smiled his approval, as he did the first time he saw it.
It was given to the Library of Commerce to commemorate the pope’s visit to the United States. The gift was funded by the Minneapolis-based GHR Foundation, which funds causes that promote peace and justice throughout the world in the areas of health, education and global developments.
The Saint John’s Bible will be on public view with other historic books, including the Bible printed on the press of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press in the mid-1400s.
“The Library of Congress is truly honored to receive this priceless work of human creativity and divine inspiration in honor of Pope Francis’s visit,” said Library of Congress Director James Billington.
Those who presented the Bible as the pope looked on were St. John’s Abbot John Klassen, St. John’s University President Michael Hemesath and GHR Foundation CEO Amy Rauenhorst Goldman. Also present in the room were Billington, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.
The Saint John’s Bible has earned world-wide acclaim for its ambitious scope and its dazzling aesthetic beauty. It is the first handwritten and hand-illuminated Bible in 500 years and was created just as the monks of yore made books – by a meticulous, labor-intensive calligraphy and with illustrations (known as “illuminations”) using special inks and gold leaf. The book was commissioned by St. John’s University and Abbey almost 20 years ago. Through many years, the work was created by scribe-calligraphers in a scriptorium in Wales under the direction of master calligrapher Donald Jackson, who is the official scribe for Her Majesty the Queen’s Crown Office at the House of Lords in London, England. Upon completion, The Saint John’s Bible was hailed as one of the most beautiful books and historic examples of the book-making art in world history.