Two volumes of the Heritage Edition of the St. John's Bible will be available for viewing this Sunday, Oct. 26, at Spokane's historic St. John's Cathedral. The Heritage Edition is a high-quality copy of the original St. John's Bible, the illuminated manuscript created by calligrapher Donald Jackson. While these may be reproductions, that doesn't mean they're any smaller than the original. Each volume of the Heritage Edition measures two-feet tall by three-feet wide, and weighs close to 20 pounds. Whew.
An illuminated manuscript is characterized by fancy borders and colorful images in addition to the text on the page, which is usually done in calligraphy.
Commissioned in 1998 and completed in 2011, the original St. John's Bible resides at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. According to a press release, it's the "first handwritten, illuminated Bible to be commissioned since the invention of the printing press."
While the St. John's Bible does travel for display at museums, the Heritage Edition was created to serve as more of a "traveling version," to allow for more access to the book for religious and educational institutions. The original set of tomes were handwritten using quills and ink on vellum, a paper made from calfskin, while the Heritage Edition was created using traditional printing techniques on cotton paper. For the illuminations, scribes used a combination of gold leaf, stamps and stencils and powdered pigments for color. The Library of Congress website features some pictures of the original hand-created edition.
Gonzaga University also owns a full set of the Heritage Edition, and keeps one volume on display in the student chapel on campus.
A lecture on the creation of the original St. John's Bible is scheduled for this Sunday at 9:15 am. On display will be copies of the Gospels and The Book of Acts for viewing between 8-10 am masses at the cathedral.