Dominican Sisters of Amityville: St. John’s Hand-Written Bible Brings Back Good Memories

Recently, a copy of the Handwritten and hand-illustrated St. John’s Bible visited the Amityville Motherhouse and brought back memories of when one of our sisters saw it before it was sent off to print. 

In 1998, Saint John’s Abbey and University in Minnesota commissioned renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson to produce a hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible. This work of art unites an ancient Benedictine tradition of art with the technology and vision of today, illuminating the Word of God for a new millennium.

On Tuesday, December 17, 2019, Molloy College in Rockville Centre, NY, brought two volumes of reproductions of the St. John’s Bible to the motherhouse. When open, the books are two feet tall by three feet wide!

One of our Sisters, Joan Vlaun, is no stranger to the St. John’s Bible. As a lover of Scripture and art, she couldn’t resist seeing the first handwritten Bible in 500 years in person!

In 1999, S. Joan chose to spend a week in Minnesota learning about this special project. Along with 11 other people in the class, she had many unique experiences including being “able to touch the last book before it was sent off to print,” she said. “You could see your reflection in the gold.” When it was over, she brought back boxes of materials on the project to her parish of St. John the Evangelist in Schenectady. Now, that she lives at the Motherhouse, she donated her materials to the community. Certain prints of the illustrations are on display in the Motherhouse. “I’m delighted that Molloy College would invest in these books,” Joan said, noting that Molloy College is the only institution on Long Island that owns any of these reproductions.