The $4 Million Bible comes to Des Moines

By Tom Quiner


The greatest artwork in history has been done in the name of God.

This morning’s Des Moines Register carried a story by Michael Morain about the Saint John’s Bible which is on display here in Des Moines through March.

What is unique about this Bible? It is the first major hand-written Bible since the 1600s. But it is more than hand-written, it is hand-illuminated. Beautiful, contemporary artwork adorn many of its pages.

The Smithsonian characterized it as “one of the extraordinary undertakings of our time.”

When the project was first described to me at a Cultural Committee meeting for the Centennial Celebration for Des Moines’ Catholic Diocese, I couldn’t get too excited. But then they showed me a video about the creation of this Bible, and I was awed.

The project’s Outreach Director, Tim Ternes, put it this way:

“Do you think people looking up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were aware of the significance of what they were looking at? With the Saint John’s Bible, we are observing the creation of the world’s next religious artifact.”

You have an opportunity to view 12 pages from this Bible thanks to the Catholic Diocese who brought the exhibit to Des Moines. They are on display at the Heritage Gallery in the Polk County Administration Building at 111 Court Avenue. The display is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

You’ll want to take the time to see it. The project cost $4 million. It is a work of transcendent beauty.