#955 – Dick Bernard: The St. John's Bible at the Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis MN

The “rack card” at the Basilica display of the St. John’s Bible can be seen here: St Johns Bible rack card001
The last two weeks I had noticed portions of the magnificent St. John’s Bible on display at my home Church, the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis MN.
A flier at the back of the Church attracted my attention to a Reception and Presentation Thursday evening Nov. 13. The flier: “The Saint John’s Bible is the first handwritten, illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey in over 500 years. Its hand written lettering and stunning artworks truly present the Word of God in an engaging and inspirational way. Discover the beauty and splendor of the St. Johns’ Bible at a captivating and lively presentation which shares the story of this once in a millennium undertaking…”
Only a few of us came to the program last night. It was our gain to have almost a private program; all I can do is encourage your taking the time to view several portions of the Bible at the Basilica of St. Mary undercroft and Church proper during usual church hours through November 30.
Tim Ternes, Director of The St. John’s Bible at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John’s University, presented a fascinating program. I asked permission to take snapshots, all related to the St. John’s Bible Project. The link to much information about the project, which went from 1995-2011, can be accessed here.
Below are a few of my snapshots from Nov. 13.
But make it a point to actually see the fascinating display at the Basilica before it ends November 30. Information here.
(click to enlarge all photos)

Tim Ternes (at left) Nov. 13, 2014

Tim Ternes (at left) Nov. 13, 2014


The creation story.  One of the many magnificent works of art within the St. John's Bible (which is, in itself, a magnificent work of the calligrapher's art.)

The creation story. One of the many magnificent works of art within the St. John’s Bible (which is, in itself, a magnificent work of the calligrapher’s art.)


In keeping with ancient tradition, the book is filled with art of local flora and fauna from, in this case, central Minnesota.

In keeping with ancient tradition, the book is filled with art of local flora and fauna from, in this case, central Minnesota.


Even calligraphers make mistakes.  Here is one of a few examples in the massive book where an entire line was missed.  Rather than redo the entire page, the calligrapher constructs a sometimes whimsical insertion, such as this one.

Even calligraphers make mistakes. Here is one of a few examples in the massive book where an entire line was missed. Rather than redo the entire page, the calligrapher constructs a sometimes whimsical insertion, such as this one.


I am not an expert in art. As I am fond of noting, in college I waited to the last minute to take the required class, Art Appreciation, and then got a “D” in it. I had a similar experience with Music Appreciation. But time changes things, and now I love both.
I came to “class” last night with only the vaguest understandings about calligraphy. I left with a great appreciation for the skill and even humor of calligraphers, and the awesome project that is the St. John’s Bible.
Do see the exhibit if you have the opportunity. It has been to many states, with more to come. The next exhibition is Madison Wisconsin beginning December 19, 2014.
According to Mr. Ternes, here are the scheduled talks in Madison:
January 19, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church, 401 S. Owen Drive, Madison, WI
Thursday, January 22, 5:30–8:30 p.m. “From Inspiration to Illumination: An Introduction to The Saint John’s Bible.” Tim Ternes, Director, The Saint John’s Bible. 5:30 p.m., illustrated presentation. 7 p.m., group discussion. 8 p.m., exhibition walk through with question-and-answer. Room L160, Elvehjem Building.

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