St. John’ Bible – the newest complete illuminated bible

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 5.09.27 PMIn 1998, Saint John’s Abbey and University of Collegeville, Minnesota, commissioned renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson of Wales to produce a hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible. This project was completed in 2011. It is the only handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine Monastery since the advent of the printing press more than 500 years ago. It is especially interesting since it was Benedictine monasteries who created and housed almost all of the hand-created manuscripts from the end of the Roman Empire until the 11th century. They are still at  it.

Visit The Saint John’s Bible site to explore its process and look at the bible.

Cosimo de Medici lives


We owe some of the survival of medieval illuminated manuscripts to the Medici family of Florence. During the 14thcentury, Cosimo de Medici of Florence, Italy, traveled widely in his career as a banker, businessman and political puppeteer. Illuminated manuscripts were one of his passions. Generally in Italy, monasteries that produced and decorated the hand-written books were in a state of disrepair. They had no ability to maintain conditions in their dilapidated libraries. Cosimo sought out monastic libraries on his travels, buying, rescuing and repairing more than 150 illuminated codices, incunaboli, manuscripts and parchments. He gave them a home in his personal library, which was added to by his descendents and opened to the citizens of Florence. He is responsible for saving a treasure trove of beautiful manuscripts.

Visit the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana now, or better yet, in person. Of note, the Reading Room of the Biblioteca was designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti.

Illuminated Origin of Species

Kelly Houle, an Arizona book artist with a focus on science and art, began the project of creating an illuminated, handprinted edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 2011. She estimates that if all goes well, she may complete the manuscript in 15 years.

For a look at Houle’s work in progress, visit Illuminated Origin of the Species.

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View KickStarter video for raising money to create this illuminated book:

Origin of Species Screen Shot

For more information see the article, “To Throw Some Light on The Origin of Species,” by Jonathan Shipley and Peter Mitham in Amphora, 2014 April