Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Sunday, 14 June 2009 16:29 UK

Handwritten bible copy on display

St Martin-in-the-Fields church
All seven volumes of the bible will be on display at the church in 2010

A copy of the first handwritten illuminated bible has gone on display at the St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, central London.

The Heritage Edition of The Saint John's Bible was commissioned in 1998 by the Benedictine monks of Saint John's Abbey and University.

It is written on calfskin vellum, using goose quills, natural inks and gold-leaf gilding, reviving old calligraphy.

Two of its seven volumes will be on display at the 18th Century church.

'Breathtaking quality'

All seven volumes, which are being made in a scriptorium in Wales, will have a contemporary translation, script, themes and images.

The two volumes - the Wisdom books and Prophets - will be on permanent display in the church with the other five volumes joining the display in 2010.

Like the original handwritten bible all its volumes would be "exquisitely bound and handcrafted", according to St Martins-in-the-Field.

Six scribes, ten illustrators, have been involved, and its not quite finished yet
The Rev Nicholas Holtham

The work is being supervised by calligrapher Donald Jackson, who is the Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Crown Office at the House of Lords.

The Rev Nicholas Holtham of St Martin-in-the-Fields church said: "Usually when you go to the British Library or somewhere like that to see an illuminated manuscript, they're quite hard to read.

"This is really beautifully laid out and is easy to read, and we will use it sometimes in our worship at St Martins.

"Six scribes, ten illustrators, have been involved, and its not quite finished yet. So this is a process that's long, slow, focused, painstaking, and the quality of it is breathtaking."

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