News Releases


April 4, 2008



Kristin Heinmets, Haberman+Associates
(612) 372-6458 /

Michael Hemmesch, Saint John’s University
(320) 363-2595 /

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI Calls
The Saint John’s Bible a “Work for Eternity”

Rare, fine art reproduction of first handwritten Bible in more than 500 years
 presented at the Vatican

Collegeville, Minn. – April 4, 2008 – The most rare, full-sized reproduction of The Saint John’s Biblewas presented to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI today. As he turned the pages, the Holy Father described it as “a work of art, a great work of art.”

The presentation occurred at the Vatican in Rome during the annual meeting of the Papal Foundation. The Holy Father received the St. Peter Apostles Edition of The Saint John’s Bible and a handwritten dedication page by Donald Jackson, the Bible’s artistic director.

“Our devoted team of calligraphers, illuminators, craftspeople and illustrators has captured the spirit of The Saint John’s Bible and put it into printed form,” said Jackson. “But, there became a point when the reproduction stopped being an imitation of the original and became a work of art in its own right.”
The Holy Father received the Wisdom Books volume, the first completed volume of the St. Peter Apostles Edition. The Wisdom Books volume is approximately 2 feet tall by 3 feet wide when open and weighs about 20 pounds. Subsequent volumes will be given to the Vatican over the next four years.

“From the time that Donald Jackson inscribed the first words of the Bible, this has been meant as a Bible for all people, a gift to the world,” said Br. Dietrich Reinhart, OSB, (retired) president, Saint John’s University. “Now, after several years of anticipation, our dream of sharing the Bible worldwide has become a reality.”

The St. Peter Apostles Edition of The Saint John’s Bible was a gift to Pope Benedict XVI from Saint John’s University and Abbey through the generosity of the Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst Foundation.

“For our family, The Saint John’s Bible is a beautiful art masterpiece, and more than that, it’s a way to spread the faith around the world,” said Judy Rauenhorst Mahoney, board member of the Papal Foundation and daughter of Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst.


  • Photos are available at, click on News & Events/Press Room/Media Images. To request a hard copy of the video footage or for additional information, please contact Kristin Heinmets at (612) 372-6458 /
  • This presentation took place less than two weeks prior to Pope Benedict XVI’s first visit to the United States April 15-20, 2008.

About The Heritage Program
Through The Heritage Program, individuals and artistic, religious and cultural institutions can experience and share the only full size, limited edition, signed and numbered reproductions of The Saint John’s Bible.

Limited to 360 full sets, each will be numbered and include a certificate of authenticity. The Heritage Program includes the Heritage Edition sets – a full set and a five volume set – currently available for subscription in pre-publication for $115,000. In addition, the program includes three enhanced editions – Apostles, Prophets and Patriarchs – each for a different sponsorship level. Please visit for additional information, or to purchase or gift a reproduction.

Proceeds from the sales of The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Program will help fund the continuing preservation of endangered medieval manuscripts worldwide, a permanent home for The Saint John’s Bible and scholarly work related to this monumental masterpiece.

About The Saint John’s Bible
The Saint John’s Bible is the first handwritten, illuminated Bible commissioned since the advent of the printing press. It was commissioned in 1998 by the Benedictine monks of Saint John’s Abbey and University to ignite the spiritual imagination of believers throughout the world and to illuminate the Word of God for a new millennium.

The Saint John’s Bible is being created by a team of scribes artists and craftspeople in a scriptorium in Wales under the artistic direction of Donald Jackson, one of the world’s foremost calligraphers and the Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Crown Office at the House of Lords in London, England.

The Saint John’s Bible is truly a monumental manuscript at more than 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide when open. Its construction parallels that of its medieval predecessors, written on vellum, using quills, natural handmade inks, hand-ground pigments and gold leaf while incorporating modern themes, images and technology of the 21st century. The creation of the Bible continues the Benedictine tradition of copying and caring for sacred texts.

This 1,150-page Bible will be created in seven distinct volumes: Pentateuch, Historical Books, Psalms, Prophets, Wisdom Books, Gospels and Acts, Letters and Revelation. Upon completion, it will reside at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library on the Saint John’s campus. For additional information, please visit