Bible donated to Library of Congress gets papal blessing

WASHINGTON — The Library of Congress has been given a rare Bible that has been given the added distinction of being blessed by Pope Francis.

Now you can get a look at the illuminated Bible, too.

The Apostles Edition of the Saint John’s Bible is a massive work that includes 160 illuminations in a volume that measures two feet tall and three feet wide when open. The work was a gift from Saint John’s Abbey and University and will be on display at the Library of Congress from Sept. 26 through Jan. 2. It will be on the Main Floor of the Great Hall at the Library of Congress.

Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress Mark Dimunation says the bible is strategically placed so visitors can get a sense of the sweep of history.

“We have it on display with 13th century hand written bibles and 15th century illuminated manuscripts so that visitors can see what the original art form looks like,” Dimunation says.

Dimunation explains the latest addition to the collection will be housed on the same floor as the Gutenberg Bible, the first bible printed with movable type in Western Europe, and with the giant bible of Mainz “which we often refer to as the last great handwritten illuminated bible — done in Mainz, Germany in the same year that Gutenberg began to print.”

Dimunation says there’s one misconception he wants to clear up about the pope’s connection to the St. John’s bible: he did not regift it, as was reported by some media outlets.

“The pope also has received an Apostle’s edition, but we have an entirely different copy,” says Dimuniation.

“I know he’s a man of simplicity, but he did not regift his copy.”

See photos of the bible on the Library of Congress website.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

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