We are at our home in Scottsdale where the weather couldn't be more perfect. We've been here a week and have done little more than enjoy ourselves in this relaxed setting and extraordinary weather. Lita's progress from her knee joint replacement surgery has gone really well and she is getting around better every day.

Last Sunday friends, whom we have known for many years and who live  in desert highlands where our home is located,  invited us to  attend Mass at their friends  St john biblehouse here. Their friends frequently have priests they know staying with them as guests for a few days and, when they do, they have mass in their home. They invite people they know from this community to attend. So, last Sunday, at 9:30 we went there with a small platter of cheese and bread for after services refreshment.  Everybody brought something.

There were perhaps 30 people  in attendance. We sat in chairs in a circle around the priest who  was using  a small table as an altar.  He was casually dressed in a short sleeve shirt and with a stole as the only religious symbol he wore. The service was simple, the homily short but meaningful and the event was spiritually significant  because of the setting and its informality.

Afterwards we enjoyed  talking with people we didn't know and having coffee  with refreshments. I was struck by the comparison with this in home service and the early church where the services consisted of meals in homes where the faithful gathered.  It was certainly an entirely different  experience than being in a large church with many people .

The owner of the house where this happened had a heritage edition of the St. John  Bible. The St. John's Bible is the first completely handwritten and hand illuminated Bible to have been  created by a Benedictine abbey since the invention of the printing press. In  1995 a master calligrapher discussed his  dream of creating an illuminated Bible with  St. John's University in Collegeville Minnesota. The University  decided to explore the feasibility of creating such a Bible. They officially commissioned it in 1998 and began looking for  funding  to pay for it. The funding was donated and the Bible  was completed in 2011 with the final word penned by hand in May of that year.

The St. John's Bible is divided into seven volumes and is 2 feet tall  by 3 feet wide  when it's open. It is made of vellum with 160 illustrations. It cost an estimated $8 million  to create. The  Initial cost of  the heritage edition was set at $145 thousand dollars each Bible set to buy one. The editions are full size fine art reproduction. of the original at 2 tall by 3 feet wide when open. They are the exact size of the original. These editions were limited to 299. Each volume of the heritage edition  contains the same number  as the original.  Many Of the illustrations  art touched up by hand and are burnished with gold leaf. Some 100 of the Heritage editions have been sold of the 299 created and this man had one in his home. In fact, the priest read the Gospel from this edition.

It is very beautiful with every word of the entire Bible had lettered and pages illustrated with beautiful illustrations. I was told that when a mistake was made the writer would first scrape off the ink and re-letter it if possible. But, if no possible or a line or word was accidently omitted, they would add it at the bottom of the page with a note. It was contained in a wood stand with drawers for the volumes and a glass to for one volume to be open for display.

Very impressive Bible and a very meaningful Sunday church experience.



  1. Mr. Luvera,

    I enjoyed your article. I have a slightly different twist on the subject. I have learned that we are born with various talents. I believe that our most important duty in life to to fill those talent quart jars a quart full. By doing so, we are able to assist others when the opportunities arise. Thus, for me, personal development fuels social utility.


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