The Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible is spending 2018 in Arkansas. From Jan. 9 through March 14, Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith will host the unique piece of sacred art and offer viewings for the public. The Bible will be displayed in the lobby at Mercy Hospital in Paris on Jan. 31 from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

Afterward, the Bible will go to Mercy Northwest Arkansas for viewing March 15 through May 31.

Sister of Mercy Chabanel Finnegan had the opportunity to see The Saint John’s Bible during a recent workshop and called it a “masterpiece.”

Saint John’s Abby and University in Collegeville, Minn., commissioned Donald Jackson to produce the hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible in 1998. It’s the first monumental, illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in the modern era. It was created by scribes in a scriptorium in Wales under the artistic direction of Jackson, one of the world’s foremost calligraphers and the senior scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office at the House of Lords.

The Bible was completed in 2011, and its permanent home is the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at Saint John’s Abbey and University. The Saint John’s Bible incorporates many of the characteristics of its medieval predecessors: It was written on vellum, using quills, natural handmade inks, hand ground pigments and gild such as gold leaf, silver leaf and platinum.

Mercy Vice President for Mission Martin Schreiber said the presence of the Bible will give the community a chance to discuss the role of scripture in our faith traditions. Church groups are encouraged to view the Bible on Sundays, from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. in the Mercy Medical Building lobby in Fort Smith.

“I think having a dialogue around this Bible is important,” he said. “I think it allows us to see God. The Book is alive, it’s not dead. The word of God is alive and it’s full of color. The Benedictine monks felt it was their mission to create this work of art to illuminate the living faith of the dead and not a dead faith of the living.”

Mercy plans an interfaith prayer service to mark the opening of the Bible’s stay in Fort Smith at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7 in the hospital’s St. Edward Chapel with additional seating in Hennessey Education Center. The public is invited.

Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 9, the Saint John’s Bible will be displayed in a case at different locations in the main hospital. Pages will be turned at various times throughout the stay. In addition, it will be displayed at Mercy Orthopedic Hospital, Mercy Tower West and Mercy’s four critical access hospitals in Ozark, Paris, Booneville and Waldron.

During certain hours the Bible is on display, Bible mentors will be available to supervise visitors while they handle the book and turn pages.