The Saint John’s Bible

The Saint John’s Bible

In 1998, Saint John's Abbey and University commissioned renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson to produce a hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible. We invite you to explore this work of art that unites an ancient Benedictine tradition with the technology and vision of today, illuminating the Word of God for a new millennium.

“In the Beginning”


The Saint Johns Bible at a glance

WHO: The Saint John's Bible was commissioned by Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota. It was executed by Donald Jackson, Senior Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office, along with a collaborative team of scribes, artists, theologians, and scholars.

WHAT: This is the first illuminated, handwritten Bible of monumental size (24 1/2 X 15 7/8) to be commissioned by a Benedictine Monastery in 500 years. All 73 books of the Old and New Testaments are presented in seven volumes of approximately 1,150 pages using the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.

WHEN: Planning and work began in 1995.The first words were penned on March 8, 2000, and the final word was written on May 9, 2011. Though the pages are complete, the Bible remains unbound at this time.

WHERE: The creation work was done in a scriptorium in Wales while the theological work was done at Saint John’s University The Hill Museum 8c Manuscript Library on the university’s campus is its permanent home.

HOW: The Saint John's Bible was made using traditional materials such as vellum (calfskin), ancient inks, gold and silver leaf and platinum, and was written with quill pens from goose, turkey, and swan feathers.

online: email:
Saint John’s University | PO Box 7333, Collegeville, MN 56321
Contact Tim Ternes for tours, presentations, and exhibition information by calling (320) 363-3351 or emailing

THE HERITAGE EDITION OF THE SAINT JOHN'S BIBLE: Created under the direction of Donald Jackson, the Heritage Edition is the only full scale, fine art edition of The Saint John's Bible. Limited to 299 seven- volume sets, it is printed on American cotton paper, illuminated with gold and silver treatments, and hand stitched and bound in soft Italian calfskin leather. Visit or contact Jim Triggs for more information by calling (320) 363-3209 or emailing

THE SAINT JOHN'S BIBLE PRODUCTS: Bring The Saint John's Bible home with you by purchasing the full-color trade editions. Illuminating the Word chronicles the Bible’s creation while The Art of The Saint John's Bible helps readers understand, explore, and reflect on it more deeply. Fine art prints, note cards, a documentary, and Seeing the Word—a visual Bible study program—are also available. Learn more and place your order with Liturgical Press online at or by calling 1-800-858-5450.

HILL MUSEUM & MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY (HMML): Home of The Saint John's Bible, HMML’s mission is to identify, digitally photograph, catalog, and archive endangered manuscripts belonging to threatened communities around the world. Having formed partnerships with over 540 libraries and archives, HMML has photographically preserved over 140,000 medieval, renaissance, and early-modern manuscripts from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and India. These resources, available through HMML’s online catalog, OLIVER, and image database, Vivarium, have become essential tools for global manuscript research. Learn more at

©Detail from Letter to the Seven Churches, Donald Jackson, 2011 The Saint John's Bible.
Saint John's University, Collegeville. Minnesota. USA

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