McGrath Institute hosts dedication ceremony for Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible

By Anna Bradley

Creation, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2003, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.Creation, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2003, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Notre Dame, IN — At 9:30 a.m. EST on Saturday, September 18, 2021 the McGrath Institute for Church Life hosted a dedication ceremony for its seven-volume Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible, a handwritten, hand-illuminated Bible commissioned out of Saint John's Abbey & University. Tim and Mary Sullivan gifted the Heritage Edition to the McGrath Institute in the summer of 2019.

The dedication ceremony was originally planned for the fall of 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The blessing was given by Fr. Mark Poorman, C.S.C., former president of the University of Portland and currently serving as a guest professor at the McGrath Institute.

According to Carolyn Pirtle, program director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, “It’s appropriate to mark the occasion of our reception of this beautiful gift by asking God to bless it so that we might use it in the spirit in which it was created and in the spirit of Scripture itself: helping to facilitate an encounter with the living God. Time and time again in Scripture we see things being dedicated to God, and this is a reminder to us as caretakers and stewards of The Saint John’s Bible that this isn’t just a work of art, it’s the Word of God.”

Various units within the McGrath Institute have incorporated The Saint John’s Bible into existing programming. Notre Dame Vision has utilized a number of the Bible’s illuminations in its mentor formation, in addition to featuring it prominently in summer programming. Pirtle has conducted virtual visio divina sessions with committees within the McGrath Institute. She has also traveled with the Science & Religion Initiative (SRI) staff to present on the relationship between Scripture and art to Catholic high school educators across the country. A free online course, Journey with The Saint John’s Bible, has been offered through the McGrath Institute twice during the Lenten season.

Plans for continued use of The Saint John’s Bible in Institute programming include focusing on the ways in which scientific and religious language and imagery coalesce as part of SRI’s offerings. Several apprentices in the Echo graduate service program have chosen to create lesson plans around the illuminations for use in their classroom and parish ministry. The Notre Dame Office of Life and Human Dignity will produce a series of lesson plans in its Teaching Human Dignity resource series for educators that pertains specifically to the connection between the arts and human dignity. 

“This dedication ceremony is an occasion to renew our sense of gratitude at being given this great gift and perhaps to recommit ourselves to stewarding it well,” said Pirtle. “I hope this will be a sort of catalyst into thinking with new creativity about how we might bring it to a broader audience in the post-Covid environment, and to think more creatively about not just in-person opportunities to engage with its beauty, but to think about and potentially expand kinds of online engagement we could develop and offer to different audiences.”

A volume of the Heritage Edition is currently on display in the third floor lobby of Geddes Hall. Visitors are welcome to visit the display and take advantage of this opportunity to engage with The Saint John’s Bible.

Contact: Brett Robinson, director of communications, 574-631-6109,