Illuminated Manuscript

A contemporary interpretation of the religious traditions of the past is giving LMU students unique insights into art, history, theology and faith, thanks to a generous campaign donation. LMU now owns a full-size reproduction of The Saint John’s Bible, the first handwritten, hand-illuminated bible created since the advent of the printing press more than 500 years ago. The Saint John’s Bible, commissioned by Saint John’s Abbey and University in 1998, combines centuries-old techniques with modern themes and images.

Many professors use The Saint John’s Bible in their courses, focusing on topics including the medieval period, the history of the book, art and theology, and art history. Cynthia Becht, head of the Department of Archives and Special Collections, said that The Saint John’s Bible has inspired students during class visits, connecting the students to the past while showing them a creative achievement made in their own lifetime. She also said that the bible is as much a statement about today’s culture and aesthetics as it is an homage to the medieval tradition.

Laura ’74 and Steven Williamson donated the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible, a full-size reproduction of the original seven-volume work, during the campaign in honor of Robert B. Lawton, S.J., former president of LMU. The university is the first institution in Southern California to own a copy, which is housed in the William H. Hannon Library.