Page 1

fa l l




>> inside

Follow the Journey Q&A with Assumption College President Illuminations Touched by Hand Calendar of Events

The Newsletter of the Heritage Edition —

The Fine Art Edition of The Saint John’s Bible

Honoring Pepperdine’s 75th Anniversary

Fr. Bob Koopmann and Abbot John Klassen each burnished a small Benedictine cross on the folio containing the ‘Vision of the New Jerusalem’ illumination. By polishing the crosses, they finished the Book and the making of The Saint John’s Bible.

Amen! Celebrating the Completion of The Saint John’s Bible With the delivery of the final volume of The Saint John’s Bible — Letters and Revelation — a creation that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI called a “work for eternity” is finished. The first illuminated, handwritten Bible of monumental size to be commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in more than 500 years is done. All 73 books from the Old and New Testaments, presented in seven volumes and 1,150 pages, are now home at Saint John’s. Commissioned in 1998, the 15-year project was a vast achievement by Donald Jackson, his team of artists and the Saint John’s community. The original artwork and its fine art edition, the Heritage Edition, are a gift to the world and will be seen, read and experienced for centuries to come. As Michael Patella, OSB, chair of The Saint John’s Bible Committee on Illumination and Text, said, “Let the Bible do what we [Saint John’s] wanted it to do — provide a new way of interpreting the Bible by letting the Spirit work through the art and the text.” On June 18, Donald and Mabel Jackson, the Saint John’s community, artists, theologians, biblical scholars, donors and friends gathered to celebrate its completion. The presentation of the Letters and Revelation volume was celebrated in the Saint John’s C elebrating


C ompletion

continued on page


What do you get a university for its 75th birthday? The Pepperdine University Libraries decided the perfect gift for a school that has virtually everything would be The Saint John’s Bible. “Pepperdine’s mission as a Christian school, and its embrace of faith, scholarship, and humanity, made The Saint John’s Bible the perfect way to commemorate this special anniversary,” says Dean of Libraries Mark Roosa. “This extraordinary work is a living gift, one that will inspire students and our community into the next seventy-five years and beyond.” The Saint John’s Bible first made its appearance on Pepperdine’s campus two springs ago when it was displayed in the Weisman Museum of Art during the school’s annual Bible Lectures event. During this past May’s Bible Lectures, a Heritage Edition Psalms volume was placed on display at the new Payson Library Gallery. Psalms was the theme of the 2011 Bible Lectures and the Library’s Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Melissa Nykanen, complemented the Psalms volume with a display of rare psalm books and hymnals housed under her care. “We have a significant collection of hymnals and psalm books, including some illustrated volumes that resonate in particular with the artistry of The Saint H onoring P epperdine

continued on page


2 |

Featured News

t h e sc r i b e

C elebrating


C ompletion

continued from page

Abbey Church during a vigil service. As part of the service, Abbot John Klassen and university president Fr. Bob Koopmann each burnished two gilded crosses left on the page by Donald. By polishing the crosses, Abbot John and Fr. Bob finished the book and the making of The Saint John’s Bible. After the final touches, the folio remained on display on the altar for guests to view. Ten two-page spreads of folios from the Letters and Revelation volume were displayed around the perimeter of the Abbey Church for guests to view before and after the vigil. At the reception following the vigil service, three individuals who made extraordinary contributions to The Saint John’s Bible project also were honored and remembered: Jo White For introducing Saint John’s to Donald Jackson and in recognition of all that she has done for the project, Abbot John proclaimed her as the “mother of The Saint John’s Bible.” Carol Marrin As the former director of The Saint John’s Bible and “pillar of wisdom,” Carol was recognized for her eight years of work on the project. Carol passed away just weeks before the celebration after a courageous struggle with breast cancer. Abbot John said, “She held on long enough to see her ‘third child’ come to maturity.” Dietrich Reinhart, OSB Br. Dietrich, former president of Saint John’s University, who passed away in December 2008, was recognized as the “supreme champion and mastermind of the project.” Abbot John said Br. Dietrich reveled in the beauty and glory of each and every page. “But even though he is not with us in person you can be sure he is looking down at us with his boyish grin proud as can be,” he said. Culminating the celebration, Donald and Mabel were honored with The Colman J. Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society.


Tim Ternes, director of The Saint John’s Bible, talks with guests after the vigil service celebrating the project’s completion.

Fr. Bob said, “Together you have made this magnificent dream a reality, giving our community a richer understanding of its Benedictine heritage, and illuminating the word of God for a new millennium.” In the evening’s final remarks, Donald said, “What Saint John’s will do with it [the Bible] is our legacy. That is going to provide all of us with a legacy for the work we put into it… If you go within and ask, you’ll find good things to do with it. The history of this project and the relationship we’ve had with this place tells me that you’ll find good answers.” It was an emotional and jubilant evening that included prayers, honors, tributes, remembrances and resounding applause for a “job well done.” Amen! [Excerpts taken from article written by Margaret Wethingon Arnold for Saint John’s Magazine.]

Donald and Mabel Jackson were honored with The Colman J. Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society. Photos by Paul Middlestaedt

t h e sc r i b e

H onoring P epperdine

continued from page

| 3


Unveiling the ‘Pentateuch’ volume are Pepperdine University’s Board of Regent Chair Edwin Biggers (left) and President Andrew Benton (right).

John’s Bible,” says Nykanen. “Visitors felt the connection through the centuries between these remarkable works of faith.” In June, The Saint John’s Bible was officially unveiled at a Board of Regents’ dinner — in the stacks of the library. Mark Roosa remembers: “Our Regents had dinner downstairs in the stacks, then moved upstairs for an official unveiling. When President Andrew Benton and Board of Regents’ Chairman Edwin Biggers drew back the blue cover cloth, the Regents were entranced. We knew that this Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible had a new home.” Roosa envisions The Saint John’s Bible as a vital component of daily student life at Pepperdine. It will be on display in the library, with a new page turned every day. Already Chaplain David Lemley has plans to feature it during his Thanksgiving service, and a convocation club will meet around a study of The Saint John’s Bible. In addition, the volumes will be brought to the surrounding community, traveling to churches and worship centers for

Pepperdine University Regents and guests admire a close-up look of the ‘Pentateuch’ volume at the celebration event. Photos courtesy of Pepperdine University, Malibu, California

guided prayer sessions and to share with congregations. For seventy-five years, Pepperdine University’s mission has combined faith and scholarship, service and learning. Mark Roosa stands in the Payson Library gallery, watching students admire the artistry of the Pentateuch volume. “The Saint John’s Bible is a celebration of

the strength of the school and a marker of how far we’ve come since our humble origins in South Los Angeles in 1937,” he said. “It’s a capstone of seventy-five years, and a promise to keep our faith alive into the coming century.” [Ken LaZebnik is the Director for Library Advancement and Public Affairs at Pepperdine Libraries.]

44 ||

Noted & Celebrated

t th he e sc sc r r ii b be e

Follow the Journey Update In the Summer 2010 issue, The Scribe reported that 20 institutions in eleven states had acquired the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible. These institutions include museums, libraries, colleges, hospitals and churches, all sharing these historic volumes in creative and inspirational ways. Just one year later, the number of Heritage Edition sites has more than doubled to 47 institutions in 22 states, due in large part to simply sharing the story of The Saint John’s Bible’s incredible 15-year journey. The institutions listed below have acquired the Heritage Edition because they recognize the artistic beauty, spiritual depth and historical significance of The Saint John’s Bible. Each one has made an extraordinary commitment to make it their own and to share the volumes in ways that reinforce their mission and identity.

Arizona State University, AZ

Mount Saint Mary’s Monastery, MD

Assumption College, MA

Naples Museum of Art, FL

Austin Public Library, MN

Pepperdine University, CA

Carroll College, MT

Regis University, CO

Cathedral of Christ the Light, CA

Sacred Heart Hospital, WI

Chaminade University, HI

Saint John’s Abbey, MN

Clarke College, IA

Saint Joseph’s University, PA

College of Notre Dame, MD

Saint Martin’s University, WA

College of Saint Mary, NE

Saint Mary’s College, IN

Diocese of Des Moines, IA

Saint Peter’s College, NJ

Fairfield University, CT

Santa Clara University, CA

Gonzaga University, WA

St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, England

Holy Family Catholic High School, MN

Church of Saint Paul the Apostle, NY

John Carroll University, OH (Prophets Edition)

St. Bartholomew Catholic Faith Community, MN

Kansas State University, KS

St. Catherine University, MN

La Roche College, PA

St. Hubert Catholic Community, MN

Loyola Marymount University, CA

University of Mary, ND

Loyola University Maryland

University of Michigan, MI

Malone University, OH

University of St. Thomas, MN

Marquette University, WI

University of Toronto - Regis College, Canada

Mayo Clinic, MN

Vassar College, NY

Mayo Clinic Health Systems, WI

Vatican Library, Italy

The Morgan Library & Museum, NY (Apostles Edition)

Vatican Museums, Italy (Apostles Edition)

Mount Saint Benedict Monastery, MN

Photo by Mark Trockman

For opportunities to see a Heritage Edition in an area near you, please click on the “Follow The Journey” link found at:


t h e sc r i b e

The Human Touch When grade school was called grammar school and the verb form of “text” did not exist, the Sisters of Charity at Immaculate Conception took English class very seriously. They taught us to avoid dangling modifiers, when an adverb can modify an adjective, and how to diagram complex compound sentences. I still remember Sister Alice Bernadette filling the blackboard — in her perfect Palmer penmanship — with diagrams that seemed to stretch 50 yards. Fast forward 35 years. Diagramming sentences and #2 lead pencils have given way to thumb-based texting. Although the tools have changed, I still capitalize the first letter of a text and organize my message in paragraph form. Fighting ghosts from fifth grade English class is hard on my thumbs. My kids make fun of my carefully constructed messages as they truncate every reply with minimal characters. My text: Kids. Mom and I are going to a movie. Please keep the kitchen clean, let the dog out and let us know if you are going out.

The hands and tools of the artists, scribes and staff of The Saint John’s Bible. Photography by Greg R. Anderson

Reply from Mary: ok c u have fun :) Reply from Carolyn: k c u Reply from Connor: k Unfortunately, winking semi-colons and other modern hieroglyphics have replaced traditional letter-writing. There is nothing wrong with texting, but it is so attractive we cannot help but fill the airwaves with meaningless chatter while avoiding the inconvenience of sitting down and writing a thoughtful letter. The ultimate example of this more deliberate approach is The Saint John’s Bible. Donald Jackson and his scribes and artists meticulously drew every letter, every word, and every verse of the Bible on calfskin using quills, homemade inks and gold leaf. A single page of text took one or two days to complete and the more complex illuminations took months. The making of the Heritage Edition also requires the human touch. This fall, Donald Jackson’s assistant, Sarah Harris, gently sanded illuminations in all 299 sets of the Heritage Edition’s Historical Books volume. In all, nearly 1,200 mages were hand finished. (See Production article on page seven.) This is hard work but worth the effort because the human touch has staying power. Like the Book of Kells — which was made by monks in the 8th Century and is visited by half a million people each year — the hands that created The Saint John’s Bible have given it life for generations to enjoy.

Jim Triggs is the Executive Director of the Heritage Program of The Saint John’s Bible. Photo by Heather Fenske

* Perspectives is a new section of The Scribe that invites others to share their view of The Saint John’s Bible and its place in modern times. If you would like to contribute an essay, please contact Linda Orzechowski at

| 5

66 ||

First Person

t th he e sc sc r r ii b be e

Assumption College President, Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D.

“We want The Saint John’s Bible to be Assumption’s gift to the greater community in which we live.” Francesco C. Cesareo is the 16th President of Assumption College in Worchester, Massachusetts. He is a distinguished academic and a leader in Catholic higher education. Dr. Cesareo recently took time from his busy schedule to tell The Scribe about the college’s plans for the Bible.


 ongratulations on Assumption’s beautiful Campus C Ministry Center which is slated to open this fall. How do you envision The Saint John’s Bible being used in the new center and shared with the Assumption community?

A: The Saint John’s Bible will be the first thing that people will see when they enter the new Campus Ministry Center. We will be displaying three volumes at a time, to coincide with the three Scripture readings of each Sunday. There is an important symbolism to this. First, that Word that is proclaimed each Sunday is integrated into our daily lives and work, since this is the Living Word of God. Secondly, it connects the liturgy to the work of Campus Ministry. Also, the volumes will be used to enhance some of the faith formation programs offered by Campus Ministry, such as catechesis, bible study, RCIA, and special liturgies throughout the academic year.

Q: “The harmony of faith and reason” is a wonderful phrase in Assumption’s mission statement. Likewise, many of the illuminations in The Saint John’s Bible celebrate science, nature and discovery as revelations of God’s greatness. Do you see the parallels and can this Bible be an expression of Assumption’s mission and Catholic identity?

A: When I first saw The Saint John’s Bible, I immediately concluded that these volumes would be an opportunity for our faculty and students to literally see that our quest for the truth, which is the goal of Catholic education, occurs through the complex integration of all branches of knowledge, that all flow from the source of truth, God Himself. This thirst for the truth is in reality the desire we all have for God, who manifests Himself in so many ways. The illuminations in The Saint John’s Bible reflect this notion that the process of learning is sacred because it is in the study of science, literature, philosophy, and the many other branches of knowledge, God reveals Himself, because everything flows from the Word. In this way, the Assumption College Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Worcester, Massachusetts. Photos courtesy of Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts

Bible is a clear expression of the mission of the College and its commitment to our Catholic identity. It is my hope that faculty will use the Bible as a resource to help students to understand the dialogue that occurs between faith and the world around it, expressed in this harmony between faith and reason, which is so evident in the illuminations.

Q: Assumption College is the first institution in the greater Boston area to receive the Heritage Edition. Do you have plans to invite the community-at-large to see and learn more about these historic volumes?

A: Absolutely. We want The Saint John’s Bible to be Assumption’s gift to the greater community in which we live. Our plan is to use the volumes for various liturgical events that are open to the community. For example, each year we sponsor an ecumenical prayer service during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which draws people from various Christian denominations across the region. We also are planning on sponsoring symposiums that revolve around the Bible as a way to educate the larger community about these volumes and their significance especially in terms of reviving the monastic tradition of illumination that comes to us from the Middle Ages.

Production Notes

t h e sc r i b e

Sarah Harris gently hand sands the gold foiling on a Heritage Edition page of a Historical Books volume. She will apply this technique to nearly 1200 illuminations. Photo by Laura Bruner

1200 Illuminations Touched by Hand Consistent with the artistic intent of the original folios of The Saint John’s Bible, the Heritage Edition volumes receive unique applications to highlight their amazing gold and silver treatments. Often these treatments are the result of a craftsperson and machine working in tandem to create a specific effect. For example, in the ‘Wisdom Woman’ image in the Wisdom Books volume, the stunning silver and gold treatments were achieved by pre-foiling the image before printing over it. With the Historical Books volume currently in production, a new hand finishing treatment has been introduced. Sarah Harris, Donald Jackson’s studio manager and printing consultant, has traveled to the United States to replicate a layering process developed by Jackson to give the illuminations depth and intensity.

On several illuminations on the original folios, Jackson laid down color, silver leaf and gold leaf on top of each other and then sanded them strategically to reveal the color underneath. Similarly with the Heritage Edition volumes, he directed the application of the colors to be nearly obliterated at the embossing stage with applications of gold and silver foil. Harris’ job was to painstakingly hand-sand the foiling on three of these illumination images to allow the color to come through where it enhances the piece. In total, nearly 1,200 illuminations within the Heritage Edition’s Historical Books volume have had this hands-on touch. These unique treatments, directed by Donald Jackson himself, ensure that the Heritage Edition is a one-of-a-kind creation, a work of art in its own right. [Craig Bruner is the Operations Consultant for the Heritage Edition.]

| 7

8 |

t h e sc r i b e

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Saint John’s Univ.

Saint John’s University Heritage Program PO Box 7222 Collegeville, MN 56321

To see a complete listing of Saint John’s Bible events, visit: and click on “See the Bible.” You can also follow the journey of The Saint John’s Bible on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Regular updates, advance notices of new publications and photos of new illuminations can all be found on these social media sites.

Calendar of Events Upcoming Events Featuring the Heritage Edition, Framed Prints and the Original Manuscript Print Exhibitions

Original Manuscript Sept. 16 – Nov. 13, 2011 The Saint John’s Bible: Amen! Returning to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts where the first national tour of original folios was launched, select pieces from the Letters and Revelation volume of The Saint John’s Bible will be on exhibition. This seventh and final volume will be on public view for the first time since its completion earlier this summer.

Oct. 23, 2011 – April 7, 2012 Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible – An Epic Work of Art Coming for the first time to New Mexico, selected pieces from the monumental work will be on display at the New Mexico History Museum. This exhibit serves as a companion to Contemplative Landscape, an original exhibition of photography depicting New Mexico’s sacred spaces.

Sept. 26 – Nov. 7, 2011 (17 prints) Benet Hill Monastery & Colorado College Colorado Springs, CO Oct. 1 – Oct. 31, 2011 (25 prints) First United Methodist Church, San Diego School of Christian Studies (SDSCS) San Diego, CA Oct. 14 – Nov. 5, 2011 (10 prints) Valparaiso University Valparaiso, IN

About our Exhibitions: Heritage Edition exhibitions feature Heritage Edition framed prints and/or Heritage Edition volumes. Print exhibitions feature framed high-quality, fine art gicleé prints. Exhibitions of the original manuscript are a unique opportunity to see unbound pages of the original artwork.

The Scribe  

Fall 2011

The Scribe  

Fall 2011