Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Illuminating the Word—The St. John’s Bible and Marcel Breuer

Essentially, Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer’s buildings are recognized as a response to life. This is expressed in the church he designed for Saint John’s Abbey (a Benedictine monastery) and University in Collegeville, Minnesota, which was completed in 1961. Breuer and his design team built this church with all poured reinforced concrete in molds and the bell tower is freestanding. When you are inside, the interior space feels like one is surrounded and enfolded by a large shell, which seems very intimate and very sculptural.

photographs by Versluis

Some pages of the Saint John’s Bible are on display in another campus building also designed by Breuer. The building, part of which is shown here, is associated with the library (notice the mold marks on the concrete).

Viewing this Bible will renew and inspire one’s Christian faith and is certainly well worth traveling to see. Information from the exhibition states, “This exhibition is devoted to a single work of art, an illuminated, handwritten Bible commissioned by Saint John's University and Abbey in Minnesota” —Library of Congress

The Saint John’s Bible (photograph from the Library of Congress)
John Frontispiece: The Word Made Flesh (John 1:1-14)
Donald Jackson, artistic director

“Stepping out of darkness, which alludes to the chaos that precedes Creation in the Bible, the golden figure of Christ brings light and order. Words in golden script, from Colossians 1:15-20, link the figure of Christ with the words ‘And lived among us’ at the upper right. A keyhole jutting into the left margin recalls the tradition of locked and hinged manuscripts in securing, protecting, and holding the ‘key’ to the Word of God.” —Library of Congress

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