The Saint John's Bible May 2009, Vol. 1, Issue 3Forward to a Friend
The lonesome early morning wails of the loons echo over Lake Sagatagan and seem to be calling to all the students and faculty who have left for the summer. The dorms will sit empty only briefly before the summer groups start arriving and filling the halls, pathways and conference rooms with spirited conversations. We hope you’ll take the time to visit Saint John’s should you find yourself in the area. There are many unique places to discover on campus but perhaps one of the greatest hidden treasures is the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library. Consider this newsletter your introduction and invitation to explore.

The Hill Museum &
Manuscript Library, Home of
The Saint John’s Bible

by Erin Lonergan

One of the most commonly asked questions from visitors stopping at Collegeville to see The Saint John's Bible is, "Where will the book be kept when it is finished?" Thankfully, Saint John’s has the perfect answer: The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, more commonly known as HMML.

The Benedictine monks at Saint John’s Abbey and University founded the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library in 1965 in response to the terrible loss of manuscripts and books from European libraries after two World Wars. HMML is the world's largest resource for the study of ancient, medieval and early modern manuscripts. Its mission is to discover, digitally photograph and preserve endangered manuscripts belonging to threatened communities around the world, and to make these cultural resources available to scholars.

Since 1965, HMML has microfilmed or digitized more than 103,000 manuscripts from Europe, Ethiopia, the Middle East, and South India. The medieval manuscripts in the recently destroyed Historical Archive in Cologne, Germany, were microfilmed by HMML in the 1980s (numbering more than 1400 unique manuscript books). Many of the manuscripts photographed by HMML in Ethiopia in the 1970s-1980s have since been stolen, sold on the black market, or simply lost.

HMML is currently preserving the historical legacies, languages and traditions contained in the manuscripts of 10 countries in 22 locations and has photographed major collections from Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, England, Sweden, Malta, Ethiopia, the Middle East and India. In 2003, HMML began an important initiative preserving manuscript collections in the Middle East – Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey – an area of the world rich in ancient Christian cultures and currently torn by political instability.

Making the preservation and scholarly missions of HMML tangible, is the Saint John's Rare Book Collection. Acquired during the past 150 years and continuing to grow today, this collection of over 4000 volumes includes printed works from the 15th through 20th centuries and supports the theological and liberal arts missions of the University.

Along with its vast collection of photographic manuscript images, HMML houses over 8,000 original artworks, prints, rare books, three dimensional objects, and graphic and liturgical art pieces in a collection known as Arca Artium or "Ark of the Arts." Developed from the working collection and inspirational habitat of Frank Kacmarcik (1920-2004), Arca Artium brings together rare books and graphic art pieces in a complementary way, so that texts and images help inform and interpret each other.

With its focus on preservation, conservation, and education, the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library provides a very fitting home for The Saint John's Bible now and in the future. Charged with its care and safekeeping, the staff members of HMML work hard to ensure the pages of The Saint John’s Bible will be around to spark the spiritual imaginations of viewers for generations to come.

You can learn more about HMML and its collections by visiting HMML is open from Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon until 4:00 p.m. from May to the weekend before Christmas. There is no admission fee.

HMML Gallery
Currently on exhibition in the HMML gallery are six original two-page openings from The Saint John's Bible from Wisdom Books and Prophets.
Photo credit: Wayne Torborg

Arca Artium Highlights:

  • Arca Artium contains more than two hundred Bibles, ranging from the Glossa Ordinaria (Koberger: Strasbourg, 1481) to Barry Moser's Holy Bible (Pennyroyal Caxton: North Hatfield, MA, 1999).
  • The print collection of more than 3000 items, is able to tell the story of printmaking in the west from the late 15th through the 20th centuries and includes 15th -16th century engravings by Dürer, to 20th century works by Chagall, Picasso and Ben-Zion.
  • The reference library which supports Arca Artium is a collection of almost 30,000 volumes.

HMML's Mission

HMML’s mission is to preserve humanity's historic written culture against the possibility of danger and loss.

  • HMML works across geographical and subject boundaries.
  • HMML photographs entire collections, not just "star" manuscripts.
  • HMML focuses on collections that are endangered or inaccessible.
  • HMML works with institutions that lack the resources to photograph their own collections.

HMML assures the long-term security and accessibility of high-quality manuscript images.

Cardinal Walter Kasper Visits HMML and The Saint John's Bible

Cardinal Walter Kasper
Cardinal Kasper touring HMML's "Book Marks" exhibition with Fr. Columba Stewart, Executive Director of HMML, and Jill Dubbeldee-Kuhn, HMML's Exhibitions Associate. Photo by Wayne Torborg.

On March 23, HMML was honored to welcome Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. Cardinal Kasper, the Vatican's top ecumenical official, was awarded the Pax Christi Award by Saint John's Abbey and University, and presented the Godfrey Diekmann Lecture for the Saint John's School of Theology. The Cardinal was fascinated by HMML’s work with the various Eastern Christian Churches in the Middle East, Ethiopia, and Europe.

For more information click this link.

  See the Bible

• The Hill Museum &
   Manuscript Library

• Cardinal Walter Kasper Visits
   HMML and The Saint John's Bible

• Upcoming Exhibitions & Events

Next month: Print Exhibitions

See the Bible


Walters Art Museum
Through May 24, 2009
Baltimore, Maryland

Print Exhibits

May 3 - June 22, 2009
First Congregational Church
Crystal Lake, Illinois

June 8 – July 24, 2009
Martin de Porres Center
Columbus, Ohio

Find a gallery near you >

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Contact:The Saint John's Bible, Liturgical Press, Saint John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321
Phone: 1.800.654.0476 or 320.363.2213

© Copyright 2009, Order of Saint Benedict, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN. All rights reserved.