Saint John’s Bible Virtual Tour

16 September 2019

Notre Dame creates “virtual tour” of the Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition

For the past year, The University of Notre Dame Australia has been custodian to one of the volumes from the Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition (Volume 6, The Gospels and Acts), on loan from Saint John's University, Minnesota.

While the volume is housed in St Teresa's Library on the Fremantle Campus and open to the public to view at weekly interactive tours, the library team have taken things a step further and created an innovative virtual tour, showcasing 17 of the volume’s beautiful illuminations along with details on the creation of the original manuscript and the Heritage Edition.

The virtual tour is available online at and extends the reach of the special bible far beyond the Western Australian campus. “Each image has ‘hot spots’ which allow you to focus on details within these complex illuminations and understand their meaning,” explained University librarian, Stephen McVey.

The volume forms part of the first completely handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey since the invention of the printing press more than 500 years ago. Work on The Saint John’s Bible began in 1998 under the guidance of Donald Jackson – the official master scribe and calligrapher to Queen Elizabeth II – with support from the Saint John’s Abbey and Saint John’s University in Minnesota USA.

A 30-person international team of calligraphers and artists took 13 years to create the Bible’s original manuscript of more than 1100 pages, including 160 major religious artworks, from calfskin vellum. Limited to 299 sets of seven volumes, each volume represents a portion of text and illustrations from the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible – and each is individually bound by hand in a single piece of Italian leather, adorned with a silver clasp, and is numbered and initialed by Mr Jackson as a signature of authenticity.

The Saint John’s Bible is not only a sacred work of art – it speaks to and inspires people of all faith journeys to follow Jesus’s footsteps to deliver peace, good will and love to all of God’s creations,” said Dr Angela McCarthy, Senior Lecturer in the School of Philosophy & Theology.

Media Contact:

Nancy Merlo: +61 2 8204 4044 | +61 415 517 589 |

Photo: Nancy Merlo