The Pope is to present a rare illuminated modern edition of the Bible to the American people when he visits Capitol Hill to deliver his anticipated address to Congress next month.
Pope Francis is to gift the fine art edition of the Bible, one of 12 commissioned by St John's Abbey and University in Minnesota in 2011, to Speaker John Boehner and Congress library, The Hill website reports. The Bible was published in collaboration with British calligrapher Donald Jackson, artistic director of the project.
The 1,150-page St Peter Apostles Edition of the St John's Bible is thought to be the first hand-written and illuminated Bible produced since the invention of the printing press. It was itself presented to the Pope last April by St John's.
Rev John Klassen OSB, Abbot of St John's, said the edition was not meant solely for Catholics but for all faiths.
According to the St John's Bible website, when the Pope first saw the illumination of Revelation's vision of the New Jerusalem earlier this year, "he raised his hands in praise, blessing and thanksgiving."
The St John's Bible contains rich illuminations of some of the most dramatic and influential passages in Scripture, the monastery said.
The Bible was a gift to the Holy See through the generosity of the Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst Foundation. "In 2008 our family had the privilege to present the first volume of the Apostles Edition to Pope Benedict," said Judy Rauenhorst Doerr, board member of the Papal Foundation and daughter of the late Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst, when the Bible was presented to the Pope.
"Now, seven years later, Pope Francis is being presented the seventh volume of this remarkable spiritual and artistic masterpiece. It is the fulfilment of our family's long-standing dream."
Three of the 12 Apostles Editions have been bought so far. Besides the St Peter Apostle Edition at the Vatican, and soon to be at Congress, another set of the seven volumes is at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City and the third is owned by a family.