Addition of Saint John’s Bible to Commencement Ceremony Heralds New Tradition

August 20, 2021
SJB News Story

As Baylor’s August commencement ceremony began this past Saturday, Dean of University Libraries Jeffry Archer led the faculty procession and inaugurated a new tradition by carrying a volume of the Saint John’s Bible.

The Psalms volume carried by Dean Archer is housed in the Arts and Special Collections Resource Center in Moody Memorial Library and is one of a limited number of Heritage Editions of the Saint John's Bible. In 1998, Saint John's Abbey and University commissioned renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson to produce the first completely handwritten and illuminated Bible created since the printing press was invented over 500 years ago.

The Heritage Edition of the Saint John’s Bible is a fine art, full-size reproduction of the original manuscript created under Jackson’s direction. These limited editions are being shared in communities around the world. The sacred art celebrates how the Saint John’s Bible inspires beauty and ignites spiritual imagination.

In 2019, the Baylor Libraries acquired copy number 105 out of 299 total copies. The seven-volume, New Revised Standard edition of the Bible features 160 major illuminations and hundreds of additional illustrations. Jackson, who is the official calligrapher to Queen Elizabeth II, observed the monks of St. John's Abbey and worked with a team of scholars in central Minnesota to create this impressive work. The creation of the Bible incorporated both centuries-old techniques and modern tools to weave together the Biblical narrative in an awe-inspiring, visually stunning manner.

“The extraordinary beauty of the Saint John’s Bible is inspiring in so many ways,” Dean Archer said. “It was a hallowing experience for me to carry the Bible in the procession of faculty and help establish this meaningful tradition.”

Moving forward, the Saint John’s Bible will be used in all Baylor commencement ceremonies. Carrying the Bible in the procession and placing it on stage as a visual focal point throughout the ceremony serves as an indication and marker of Baylor’s commitment to unapologetically Christian higher education.

To learn more about the Saint John’s Bible, or to arrange an opportunity to view the Heritage Edition of the Saint John's Bible in person, please visit: