Handwritten Bible on Display at Knights of Columbus

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — It took 15 years to complete and its presence is now gracing the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven. “The Saint John’s Bible is 1,127 handwritten pages on calf skin — on vellum — using natural inks, using real quills, using goose or turkey or swan feathers,” explains Peter Sonski, education, outreach and visitor services manager at the museum.

bible illustration

It is the first handwritten and hand illustrated bible to be commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in 500 years. The 68 beautifully crafted pages were painstakingly created by a team of 24 people using centuries-old techniques.

“The illustrations — or as they refer to them illuminations — in this work are really distinct,” Sonski said. “They look not only at what the authors of the books of the bible said in their era, but bring them in to the modern age and hope to extend them for a thousand years forward.”

The bible has even received words of praise from Pope Benedict XVI, who said “This is a work of art, a great work of art … a work for eternity.”

“There’s something that’s really unique about the bible presented in this way — the human hand to paper to one’s eye to one’s mind and one’s spirit,” Sonski said.

Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible is on display from now until November 2nd. For more information, visit http://www.kofcmuseum.org.

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