First illuminated Bible in 500 years for Benedict

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After ten years work, a team of UK calligraphers has presented Pope Benedict with a copy of the first illuminated handwritten Bible commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in over 500 years.

The BBC reports the $A5.8 million project is the work of Monmouthshire-based artist Donald Jackson and his team of calligraphers.

Mr Jackson, senior scribe to the Queen, was commissioned by Benedictine monks of St John's Abbey in Minnesota, USA.

The Pope was handed a full-sized reproduction of the seven-volume St John's Bible weighing 23kg.

The bible contains more than 1,000 pages and 160 illuminations - illustrations crafted using hand-cut feather quills in the same way as in medieval times.

As he turned the pages, the Pope described the bible as "a work of art, a great work of art".

The presentation occurred in a private audience at the Vatican in Rome during the annual meeting of the Papal Foundation.

Mr Jackson, the creative force behind the Bible, described the project as the calligrapher's Sistine Chapel.

"The bibles and the wonderful works of the past have always been the inspiration for lettering artists and calligraphers, so that's always the one you'd love to do.

"I just asked a monastery in the United States if they'd like to have me do it. I just happened to ask at the right time."

The reproduction given to the Pope is one of just 12 copies of the St Peter Apostles edition of the Bible.

Mr Jackson and his team are still working in Monmouth on the last two volumes of the bible, which will be kept at St John's University in Minnesota.

SOURCE

Pope handed bible 'work of art' (BBC, 5/4/08)

Handwritten Bible is Given to Pope Benedict XVI (Vatican Radio, 5/4/08)

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