His Holiness Pope Francis Receives Final Volume of The Saint John’s Bible at the Vatican

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April 17, 2015

His Holiness Pope Francis receiving the final volume of The Saint John's Bible at the Vatican on April 17. The Holy Father gestured in praise and thanksgiving when he saw Letters and Revelation's "The Vision of the New Jerusalem. Pictured with Pope Francis (left to right) Abbot John Klassen, OSB, Saint John's Abbey, Michael Hemesath, president of Saint John's University, Donald Jackson, artistic director of The Saint John's Bible, and Katharine and Dan Whalen.


The final volume of the limited, full-sized fine art edition of The Saint John's Bible was presented to His Holiness Pope Francis today by the Papal Foundation and Saint John's University. As Pope Francis saw the illumination portraying the heavenly Jerusalem, he raised his hands motioning in praise, blessing and thanksgiving. The illumination from Letters and Revelation shows the fulfillment of the Old Testament's prophecy that the gates never close and the heavenly Jerusalem is open to all people of every nation.

The presentation occurred at the Vatican during the annual meeting of the Papal Foundation. The Holy Father received Letters and Revelation, the last completed volume of the St. Peter Apostles Edition of The Saint John's Bible, signed and authenticated by Donald Jackson, the Bible's artistic director.

"Pope Francis lifted his hands with a smile on his face in a gesture of joy and appreciation. It was wonderful," said Abbot John Klassen, OSB, of Saint John's Abbey.

In addition to the "Vision of the New Jerusalem," Donald Jackson, Abbot John and Michael Hemesath, president of Saint John's University, also showed him the last page of Revelation with "The Great Amen," the final illumination and words of The Saint John's Bible.

"He began to sense the beauty of the illuminations and illustrations, "said Jackson. "I showed him the illumination of the New Jerusalem and at that point he raised up his arms with an expression of joy." Today's presentation of Letters and Revelation was a singular event in the project's history as Revelation was entirely written and illuminated by Jackson. He said: "I am proud to represent the team of skilled artists and printers who have striven to make the Word of God come alive on the pages of this edition of The Saint John's Bible."

Letters and Revelation, which is approximately 2 feet tall by 3 feet wide when open and weighs about 14 pounds, is characterized by rich illuminations of some of the most dramatic and influential passages of all of Sacred Scripture. St. Paul's and other authors' words are the oldest Christian documents on record.

"It was a rare honor and privilege to be able to personally present the last volume of The Saint John's Bible to Pope Francis," said Michael Hemesath. "The Saint John's Bible is yet another example of the ways the monks of Saint John's impact the world far beyond Collegeville. From preserving cultures through the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library to their role in the liturgical reforms and ecumenical movement of Vatican II to envisioning the first handwritten Bible in 500 years, the monastic community at Saint John's serves the Church and the world in exceptional ways."

The St. Peter Apostles Edition of The Saint John's Bible was a gift to the Holy See from the Papal Foundation through the generosity of the Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst Foundation. "In 2008 our family had the privilege to present the first volume of the Apostles Edition to Pope Benedict," said Judy Rauenhorst Doerr, board member of the Papal Foundation and daughter of the late Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst. "Now, seven years later, Pope Francis is being presented the seventh volume of this remarkable spiritual and artistic masterpiece. It is the fulfilment of our family's long-standing dream."

Beautifully bound, the St. Peter Apostles Edition is in the same seven volumes as the original. To date, three of the 12 Apostles Edition have been acquired. Besides the St. Peter Apostle Edition at the Vatican, one set is at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City; and the third is owned by a family.




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