Saint Martin’s Abbey presents lectures on ‘a Bible for our time’

Rev. Eric Hollas, O.S.B., to discuss the modern illuminated Saint John’s Bible

April 2, 2008

Lacey, Washington — Saint Martin’s Abbey continues its 2007–08 concert/lecture series with the Abbot Gerald R. Desmond Lecture, a program of two lectures on the topic of the Saint John’s Bible presented by the Reverend Eric Hollas, O.S.B., senior associate for arts and cultural affairs at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. The first lecture, “The Genesis of a 21st-Century Manuscript,” is scheduled for Saturday, April 19, and the second lecture, “Art in the Service of the Sacred: The Art of the Saint John’s Bible,” for Sunday, April 20. Both lectures will take place at 2 p.m. in the Saint Martin’s Abbey Church on Saint Martin’s main campus, 5300 Pacific Ave. SE, Lacey, Washington, 98503. The event is open to the public free of charge but a voluntary offering is suggested. Seating is limited. Doors open one hour prior to the event. It is recommended that patrons enter the campus via the Sixth Ave. entrance, adjacent to the Lacey City Hall and public library.

The Saint John’s Bible, an endeavor of Saint John’s Abbey and University, marks the first time in 500 years that a Benedictine monastery has commissioned a handwritten, illuminated Bible. The Abbey commissioned Donald Jackson, scribe to the Queen of England, to create the Saint John’s Bible by combining ancient methods and materials with modern themes and images. In the tradition of medieval manuscripts, Jackson writes the text on vellum, using quills, natural handmade inks, hand-ground pigments and gold leaf. To accompany the text, he creates illuminations that blend religious imagery from various Eastern and Western traditions, reflecting a contemporary, multicultural, technological world.

In commissioning the Bible, the monks of Saint John’s Abbey seek to ignite the spiritual imagination of all peoples throughout the world. The unique aspect of this project, according to the Abbey, is that it aims to create “a Bible for our time,” representing humankind’s achievements over the past 500 years. In addition to presenting an opportunity for learning and scholarship, the undertaking is a dignified expression of the Benedictine vision: “That in all things God may be glorified.”

Fr. Eric Hollas, O.S.B., a Benedictine monk and priest of Saint John’s Abbey, was instrumental in initiating the Saint John’s Bible. He holds a B.A. in history from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in medieval studies from Yale University. His special interests include the history of Spain in the Middle Ages, the history of monasticism in medieval Europe and the history of the book. Hollas is a member of the Medieval Academy of America, the Grolier Club in New York, the Order of Malta and the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Since 1980, he has served on the faculty of the School of Theology and Department of Theology at Saint John’s University. Between 1993 and 2002, he served as the executive director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University.

The Saint John’s Bible will be on display at the Tacoma Art Museum for Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible, an exhibition that runs July 12 – Sept. 7, 2008. In December 2000, the Saint John’s Bible was featured as the cover story of Smithsonian Magazine, and more recently it was the subject of a BBC documentary.

Saint Martin’s Abbey was founded in 1895 by the Benedictine monks of Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. The Benedictines are a monastic order of the Roman Catholic Church. Today, as in years past, the Benedictine monks of Saint Martin’s Abbey pray, work and live together in community, seeking God and responding to Him in their life of prayer.

For centuries, the apostolate of education has characterized many Benedictine communities as their principal work. The monks of Saint Martin’s are involved in a wide variety of work within Saint Martin’s University and within the Abbey, and also are engaged in pastoral ministry in parishes and health care facilities of the Pacific Northwest. The Abbot and monks of Saint Martin’s Abbey, Lacey, established their annual concert/lecture series, “Abbey Church Events,” in 1980 during the sesquimillenial celebration honoring Saint Benedict of Nursia.

For additional information:

Brother Boniface V. Lazzari, O.S.B.
Saint Martin’s Abbey

Jennifer G. Fellinger
Saint Martin’s University