FORT SMITH, Ark. – The Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible is spending 2018 in Arkansas, including one day in Booneville later this month.
From Jan. 9 through March 14, Mercy Fort Smith will host the unique piece of sacred art and offer viewings for the public. During its time with Mercy Fort Smith the Bible will be taken to other Mercy locations, including the Mercy Hospital in Booneville on Wednesday, Jan. 24, where it will be available for viewing from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Sister of Mercy Chabanel Finnegan had the opportunity to see The Saint John’s Bible during a recent workshop and called it a “masterpiece.”
Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minn., commissioned Donald Jackson to produce the hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible in 1998. It’s the first monumental, illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in the modern era. It was created by scribes in a scriptorium in Wales under the artistic direction of Donald Jackson, one of the world’s foremost calligraphers and the senior scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office at the House of Lords.
The Bible was completed in 2011. Its permanent home is the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at Saint John’s Abbey and University.
The Saint John’s Bible incorporates many of the characteristics of its medieval predecessors: It was written on vellum, using quills, natural handmade inks, hand ground pigments and gild such as gold leaf, silver leaf and platinum. Jackson has described an “illumination” as the way light plays off of the pages as they are turned.
Martin Schreiber, Mercy vice president for mission, said the presence of the Bible will give the community a chance to discuss the role of scripture in faith traditions. Church groups are encouraged to view the Bible from 2-5 p.m. Sundays in the Mercy Medical Building lobby.
“I think having a dialogue around this Bible is important,” he said. “I think it allows us to see God. The Book is alive; it’s not dead. The word of God is alive and full of color. The Benedictine monks felt it was their mission to create this work of art to illuminate the living faith of the dead and not a dead faith of the living.”
While at Mercy Fort Smith the Saint John’s Bible will be displayed in a case at different locations in the main hospital. Pages will be turned at various times throughout the stay. In addition, it will be displayed at Mercy Orthopedic Hospital, Mercy Tower West and Mercy’s four hospitals in Ozark, Paris, and Waldron.
During certain hours the Bible is on display, Bible mentors will be available to supervise visitors while they handle the book and turn pages.
A closing ceremony is planned for 2 p.m. March 14 in the Hennessey Education Room at Mercy Hospital Fort Smith.
After its stay in the River Valley, the Bible will go to Mercy Northwest Arkansas for viewing March 15 through May 31.