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Canton Museum of Art Presents “Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible” — Opening December 5, 2013

November 15, 2013 Attraction No Comments Email Email

Ancient inks, calligraphy, 24-karat gold leaf and more than 12 years of artistic and spiritual meditation come together in Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible, a monumental exhibition opening December 5, 2013, at the Canton Museum of Art. The Saint John’s Bible is the first handwritten and illuminated (illustrated / decorated) Bible to be commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in more than 500 years — all 73 books of the Old and New Testaments presented in seven volumes of 1,127 pages — produced using entirely medieval techniques and materials. This magnificent exhibit features 68 original manuscript pages in 34 displays, and is the first touring exhibit to show pages from all completed volumes. Also on display will be the tools, sketches and materials used to create the work, as well as rare books to help to tell the story of this vast creation. The exhibition will remain on view through March 2, 2014.

“This exhibit represents a truly monumental achievement that intersects Christianity and world religions in a contemporary masterpiece of medieval craftsmanship, materials and calligraphy,” said M.J. Albacete, executive director of the Canton Museum of Art.

Tickets for this exhibition are: $10 Adults; $8, Seniors and Students (with valid I.D.); Museum Members are Free; and Children 12 and under, Free. Tickets are available at the Museum Ticket Office during Museum hours, or by calling 330.453.7666, 10am – 5pm weekdays, to reserve tickets. Online ordering at will be available starting Nov. 15. Advance tickets may be picked up at the Museum.

Ancient Craft Meets Spiritual Vision in the 21 st Century
In 1995, the community of Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota initiated a major undertaking to produce a contemporary illuminated Bible using entirely medieval techniques and materials. The actual pages were created by a team of 23 professional scribes, artists and assistants in a scriptorium in Wales, under the artistic direction of renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson, Senior Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office at the House of Lords in the United Kingdom.

Completed in 2011, this unique undertaking to create The Saint John’s Bible combines a centuries-old tradition of craftsmanship with the latest capabilities of computer technology and electronic communication — and the ultimate creation is timeless. The words are handwritten on vellum (calfskin) using hand-cut quills fashioned from turkey, swan or goose feathers; 19th century Chinese lamp black ink sticks; and ancient inks hand-ground from natural minerals and stones such as lapis lazuli, malachite and vermillion. The pages are illuminated with the brilliance of 24-karat gold leaf, silver leaf and platinum. The complete work includes 1,127 handwritten pages and over 160 major artworks.

A Magnificent Installation at the Canton Museum of Art
The exhibition at the Canton Museum of Art will include original folios (pages) from all seven of the volumes of The Saint John’s Bible which make up the complete Old and New Testament: PentateuchHistorical BooksWisdom BooksPsalmsProphetsGospels and Acts, and Letters and Revelation. 68 pages will be on view, including 32 vivid illuminations that share the pages with the graceful script.

Visitors will find themselves being drawn in by the striking modern illuminations, vibrant colors and thoughtful treatment of these ancient texts. Strands of DNA are woven into the illumination of the Genealogy of Christ, along with ancestral names inscribed in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Satellite photos of the Ganges River Delta and photos from the Hubble telescope were used to depict Creation. 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.

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.”

Complete exhibit details and events are available at

Opening Night Celebration
Thursday, December 5, 2013 • 6:00 – 9:00pm
Museum Members: $35 • Non-Members: $45 (includes a 1-year Museum membership)
Enjoy a magical evening touring “The Saint John’s Bible,” including a gallery talk with Tim Ternes, director of The Saint John’s Bible; CMA Executive Director M.J. Albacete; Sacred Voices curator, Michele Waalkes; and more. Heavy hors d’oeuvres, cash bar and music from the Canton Symphony Orchestra Woodwind Trio throughout the evening. Call 330.453.7666 to reserve tickets for this exciting event!

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