Pope Francis to Gift Rare Bible to Library of Congress During US Visit

Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic palace in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican August 9, 2015.
Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic palace in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican August 9, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Tony Gentile)

Pope Francis, who is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress in September, plans to donate a rare Bible to House Speaker John Boehner and the Library of Congress, according to reports.

The pope will address Congress on Sept. 24, when he will also present a copy of a special fine art edition of the Bible, which was commissioned by a Minnesota Benedictine abbey, to the Ohio Republican and the Library of Congress, according to The Hill.

The Apostles Edition of the St. John's Bible, which runs in seven volumes, is believed to be the first handwritten and illuminated Bible produced since the invention of the printing press and cost an estimated $ million.

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The 1,150-page work was presented to the pope in April by the Papal Foundation and Saint John's University in Minnesota.

As Francis saw the illumination portraying the heavenly Jerusalem, he raised his hands motioning in praise, blessing and thanksgiving.

"Pope Francis lifted his hands with a smile on his face in a gesture of joy and appreciation. It was wonderful," Abbot John Klassen of Saint John's Abbey said in a statement at the time.

Donald Jackson, a British calligrapher, collaborated with St. John's to produce the English language Bible, which is signed and authenticated by him.

"I am proud to represent the team of skilled artists and printers who have striven to make the Word of God come alive on the pages of this edition of The Saint John's Bible," Jackson said in the statement.

According to Klassen, the St. John's Bible is meant to be read by people of all faiths, and not just by Catholics.

"It was a rare honor and privilege to be able to personally present the last volume of The Saint John's Bible to Pope Francis," St. John's President Michael Hemesath said at the time. "The Saint John's Bible is yet another example of the ways the monks of Saint John's impact the world far beyond Collegeville. From preserving cultures through the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library to their role in the liturgical reforms and ecumenical movement of Vatican II to envisioning the first handwritten Bible in 500 years, the monastic community at Saint John's serves the Church and the world in exceptional ways."

Correction: An earlier version of this article reported that Pope Francis will gift the Library of Congress a rare Bible worth $8 million during his U.S. visit in September. That original figure was incorrect — while the book is rare, it's not valued at $8 million. The original volumes of the Saint John's Bible, however, are estimated to have cost $8 million. The Library of Congress will receive an Apostle's Edition, which is entirely separate.

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