Stunning, handcrafted Bible on display at Notre Dame

29 May 2018

Features 160 major original artworks, created over 13 years by team of 30 artisans  

A volume of the first completely handwritten and illuminated Bible created since the invention of the printing press more than 500 years ago has been unveiled at Notre Dame University’s Fremantle Campus.

Originally commissioned by the Benedictine Monks in (where) the bible is part of a seven-volume ‘St John’s Bible project’ created by an international team of 30 calligraphers and artists over a 13-year-period.

Volume six of the Bible, titles Gospels & Acts – on loan to Notre Dame for 12 months – comprises 1100 pages and showcases 160 major religious artworks created on calfskin vellum

Work on The Saint John’s Bible project 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.

Limited to 299 sets of seven volumes, each volume of The Saint John’s Bible represents a portion of text and illustrations from the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible.

The volume on display at Notre Dame as part of the Festival of Religious Art on the University’s Fremantle Campus measures 60cm x 90cm, is individually bound by hand in a single piece of Italian leather, adorned with a silver clasp, and is numbered and initialled by Mr Jackson as a signature of authenticity.

The Bible explores the life of Jesus Christ and the early journeys of the Church in stunning detail. Striking features include the scattered use of gold leaf which represents the ‘divine’ while the use of silver/platinum reflects the principle of wisdom and detailed iconography symbolises God’s omnipresence.

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,” Dr McCarthy said.

“I encourage everyone to visit Notre Dame’s Fremantle Campus to witness this magnificent volume of Gospels & Acts and appreciate the true scale, beauty and artistic intent that has gone into making this magnificent Bible.”

The Gospels & Acts Volume of The Saint John’s Bible is on display in the University’s St Teresa’s Library, located in Bateman Courtyard off Mouat Street, Fremantle. Visit for more information.

Media Contact - Beth Kennedy : +61 8 9433 0764 | 0447 038 958