EXHIBITION: "Illuminating the Word: The Saint John's Bible"

December 5, 2013 - March 2, 2014


In 1998, Saint John’s University and Benedictine Abbey commissioned renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson to produce a handwritten, hand-illuminated Bible. We invite you to explore this work of art that is truly a gift to the world.

(Image, left): Ecclesiastes, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2006, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA; (top, middle): The Word Made Flesh (John 1:1-30), Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA; (top, right): Donald Jackson working at his desk.

Ticketed Exhibition Admission:

- Museum Members, FREE
- $10 Adult
- $8 Senior & Student (with valid I.D.)
- Children 12 & Under, FREE
- Group Discounts & Docent Guided Tours Available — Call 330.453.7666 for information.

Tickets available at the CMA Ticket Office during Museum gallery hours, or by phone at 330.453.7666, 10:00am - 5:00pm weekdays.  Tickets are also available for purchase online.  Order by phone or online and pick up your tickets at the Museum Ticket Office.

Museum Gallery Hours:
(Please Check Posted Holiday Hours on the Museum Home Page)

Monday:  Closed
Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday:  10:00am - 8:00pm
Friday - Saturday:  10:00am - 5:00pm
Sunday:  1:00pm - 5:00pm

This exhibit represents a monumental achievement that intersects Christianity and world religions in
a contemporary masterpiece of Medieval craftsmanship, materials and calligraphy. An experience of a lifetime, not to be missed!


WCPN-Public Radio / NPR Cleveland – Dec. 5, 2013
Interview with Saint John's Bible Artistic Director Donald Jackson
Dee Perry, "The Sound of Applause"

Listen to Donald Jackson discuss the creation of "The Saint John's Bible" and the exhibition at the Canton Museum of Art ... from Wales to Cleveland with 90.3 WCPN's Dee Perry and "The Sound of Applause" (interview begins at 33:45 in the audio stream) ... The ultimate insider's guide ...

Considered by many as a Sistine Chapel of the modern era, The Saint John’s Bible is the first handwritten and illuminated (illustrated / decorated) Bible to be commissioned in more than 500 years.  All 73 books of the Old and New Testaments were produced in seven volumes of approximately 1,127 pages with 160 illuminations (the pages are nearly 2' tall x 3' wide when open) — all using medieval techniques and materials.

This magnificent new exhibition, Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible, opens December 5, 2013, at the Canton Museum of Art with 34 display cases holding 68 of the original pages of the unbound work.

This is the first touring exhibit of The Saint John’s Bible to feature pages from all seven completed volumes.  Also on display will be the materials used to create the work, as well as a recreation of Artistic Director Donald Jackson’s work desk (Jackson pictured above, right) in the galleries.

Ancient Craft Meets Spiritual Vision in the 21st Century
In 1995, Saint John’s University and Benedictine Abbey in Minnesota initiated a major undertaking to produce a modern illuminated Bible using entirely medieval techniques and materials (“illumination” is defined as a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by decorative elements and illustrations).

Finally commissioned in 1998, The Saint John’s Bible was executed by Donald Jackson, Senior Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office, along with a collaborative team of scribes, artists, theologians and scholars — working between Wales and Saint John's in Minnesota.  The first words were written on Ash Wednesday, 2000, and the final word, “Amen,” penned on May 9, 2011.

© The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Donald Jackson, 2011, The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota.  Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the Unites States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Saint John’s Bible blends modern vision and experiences with ancient craft — and the ultimate creation is timeless.  The pages were produced on calfskin vellum using goose, turkey and swan quills; lamp black ink from 19th century Chinese ink sticks; cakes and powdered pigments mixed with egg yolk and water; gold leaf; and stencils and stamps used to apply paint and gold powder throughout.

Following the Benedictine tradition of inclusion, The Saint John’s Bible incorporates many elements from the world religions, including Judaism, Islam and more. The Saint John’s Bible uses the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation of the Bible. This translation was chosen because it is theologically sound and because its predecessor, the Revised Standard Version, is officially authorized for use by most Christian Churches: Protestant, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox.

Several approaches are taken to representing the divine in the pages of The Saint John’s Bible. Reading the Gospels, you will see the images of Jesus range from representational to abstract.  In Prophets, the rainbow, that sign of God’s enduring promise to Noah, is used to show the presence of God.  Gold leaf is used throughout, from Creation to Apocalypse, to direct the reader to the presence of the divine.

Contemporary Vision
And it is a Bible for the 21st century. Within The Saint John’s Bible, you will see the signs of our times. Strands of DNA are woven into the illumination of the "Genealogy of Christ." Satellite photos of the Ganges River Delta and photos from the Hubble telescope were used to depict "Creation" (image, left, Creation, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2003, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA.)  In Acts, the image "To the Ends of the Earth" includes the first vision of the Earth as seen from space in a handwritten Bible.

Sacred Voices — Companion Exhibition (December 5, 2013 – March 2, 2014)
Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible will share exhibition space with Sacred Voices, an original contemplative exhibit featuring artwork by “People of the Book.”  Sacred Voices showcases contemporary work by artists from around the country inspired by Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith.  Imagery and artistry combine to offer fresh perspectives on religious texts, narratives and traditions.  Sacred Voices is curated by Michele Waalkes, a Malone University visual arts lecturer.

The Sacred Voices exhibition examines how faith can inform and inspire artists in their work, whether their work is symbolic, pictorial, or textual in nature. It further explores how present-day artwork can lead audiences to ponder God, religious themes, venerated traditions, or spiritual insights.

A diverse selection of media — including calligraphy, wood and metal, digital media, watercolor, photography, oil, block prints, plaster, mixed media, mineral pigments and gold, acrylic, gouache and Japanese stone ink, jewelry, ceramics, and video installation — are incorporated into the exhibit.  Over 30 artists are represented, from Australia, Austria, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  Learn more about Sacred Voices...

One Exhibition — Bringing Many Together…
Also part of the programming will be in-Museum calligraphy classes, a visiting artist program to Canton / Stark schools, in-Museum school tours, and events ranging from regional church and synagogue architectural tours to musical and choral programs, ecumenical concert events at the Museum, an illuminated windows project for Downtown Canton, theological lectures from Malone University and Walsh University, a Bible-themed movie festival at the Canton Palace Theatre, and more featuring the Canton Symphony Orchestra, VOCI and other arts organizations. Even a Medieval Festival Day!  (See Exhibition-Related Events Below)

Learn More Background About The Saint John's Bible

Collaboration with Malone University
This unique exhibition is presented in collaboration with Malone University, where the university’s Cattell Library is the permanent home of a Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible – one of a limited number of full-sized, signed and numbered reproductions of the original masterpiece.  Malone will be displaying its editions during the CMA exhibit of the original pages, as well as presenting “Illuminating the Word” as its annual holiday program, “Christmas at Malone.”

In the vision of Saint John’s University and Abbey, alongside calligrapher Donald Jackson, The Saint John’s Bible is a work of art that will ignite the spiritual imagination of audiences throughout the world.  As Smithsonian magazine proclaimed, “One of the extraordinary undertakings of our time.”

Special Thanks to Exhibition Sponsors for Illuminating the Word: The Saint John's Bible:
This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of:
• The Henry & Louise Timken Foundation
• Malone University
• Stark Community Foundation
• Acme Fresh Market
• The Mary Renkert Wendling Foundation
• The Ron & Jeanne Cullen Family
• Fred & Virginia Olivieri
• The John & Carole Van Abel Charitable Fund
• Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
• Timken Family Charitable Trust
• The Albert W. & Edith Flowers Charitable Foundation
• Mr. & Mrs. William Luntz
• Bill & Carolyn Lemmon
• The Robert DeHoff Family
• Mark & Beverly Belgya
• Nancy & Larry Hoover
• Mr. & Mrs. Robert Leibensperger
• Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Wilkof
• Judith Lancaster
• Angstrom Graphics Inc. Midwest
• Greenport Financial Advisers, Inc.
• Mr. Harold Ziegler, Jr.
Special thanks to the Canton Repository, WKSU, WNPQ and Living Bread Radio Network for media support, and the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsInStark for continued exhibition and operating support of the Canton Museum of Art.

"What an amazing gift to bring The Saint John's Bible to the Northeast Ohio community — to share ancient craft and modern spiritual vision that created this vast masterpiece of inspiration and joy."

- M.J. Albacete
Executive Director
Canton Museum of Art


Media Coverage and Interviews for The Saint John's Bible Exhibition Premiere at The Canton Museum of Art

Alliance Review – December 12, 2013
A Gift to the World

Cleveland Plain Dealer – December 11, 2013
Unique handwritten Bible blends modern and medieval in Canton ...Plain Dealer
CANTON, Ohio -- The Saint John's Bible -- the first handwritten and illuminated... is on display through March 2 at the Canton Museum of Art, 1001 Market Ave.
Ohio Museum Hosts Panels From Unique Bible, WOSU Public Media — Dec. 10, 2013
WOSU (Ohio State University Public Radio)
You won't see all of it at the Canton Museum of Art, but now you can see 68 massive pages of the first hand-written, illuminated Bible commissioned anywhere in ...
Canton Repository – Dec. 7, 2013
Saint John's Bible, religious art on exhibit at Canton Museum of Art (Canton Repository)
CANTON On Friday, the Canton Museum of Art opened its newest exhibit, ... the museum's marketing director, said the plan always was to present the art in ...
WCPN-Public Radio / NPR Cleveland – Dec. 5, 2013
Interview with Saint John's Bible Artistic Director Donald Jackson
Dee Perry, "The Sound of Applause"

Listen to Donald Jackson discuss the creation of "The Saint John's Bible" and the exhibition at the Canton Museum of Art ... from Wales to Cleveland with 90.3 WCPN's Dee Perry and "The Sound of Applause" (interview begins at 33:45 in the audio stream) ... The ultimate insider's guide ...
'Adventures in Slumberland', St. John's Bible & 'Christmas at ...ideastream
Plus we meet the artist behind the new exhibit at The Canton Museum of Art - Illuminating the Word: The Saint John's Bible. And Santa returns to Severance Hall ...
Canton Repository – TICKET Cover Story – Dec. 5, 2013
"A Visually Stunning New Bible at The Canton Museum of Art"
Medieval techniques, modern art in St. John's Bible (Canton Repository)
The artwork illuminating the text is contemporary in feel, rich in color with gold-leaf ... On display through March 2 at the Canton museum, in specially made glass ...
89.7 WKSU Interview with Canton Museum of Art – Dec. 4, 2013

St. John's Bible: A work of art and faith 16 years in the making
Canton Museum of Art is set to open the display of 68 pages of the first hand-illustrated, hand-written Bible in more than 500 years...
Youngstown Vindicator – Nov. 23, 2013
Canton Museum of Art to exhibit handwritten Bible (Youngstown Vindicator)
Why did the com- munity of Saint John's Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minn., initiate a 12-year project to create a contemporary illuminated Bible using ...