Saint John’s Bible, church design highlight visit to Minnesota’s St. John’s University

A look at a folio of the St. John’s Bible.

With hundreds of versions of the Bible having been published in more than 2,000 languages, it might seem unlikely that someone could create a new version. Yet, St. John’s University in St. Joseph, Minn., did just that. To celebrate the millennium, the college commissioned the project in 1998. With a team of calligraphers and illustrators, under the guidance of Donald Jackson of Wales, Saint John’s Bible consists of well-designed words and illustrations.

In maintaining its authenticity in the Benedictine beliefs, the team works meticulously to create the new version. Some of the team worked individually, while others worked side-by-side at Jackson’s Scriptorium in Wales. The goal was to have the writing appear synchronized, as if one person did it all.

Calligraphy and illustration tools used by the Bible’s writers.

The project took about a decade to complete.

The calligraphy and illustration create a contemporary presentation.

St. John’s University shares original manuscripts in its Bible gallery. About 30 folios are on display.

About 30 folios are on display at St. John’s Bible Gallery.

Joining the St. John’s Bible are international versions, including  Gaelic and Polish translations.

A Polish version is on display with other Bibles.

Stained glass

A visit to the gallery at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library also needs to include a stop at the St. John’s Abbey. The abbey and church were designed to include the Benedictine monks, college students and local parishioners. With a capacity of about 1,500, the goal is to have each person feel as if they are close to the priest delivering the liturgy.

The St. John’s church on the college campus.

With its primary mission being a place to worship, the church is also known for its architectural design and stained-glass windows. The north side of the church has more than 425 panels of stained glass.

A look at the stained-glass windows from the pews.


From the St. John’s Bible to stained-glass, St. John’s University at Collegeville Township, just outside St. Joseph should be on travelers’ lists of places to visit.

For more information on St. John’s University, visit