Artist Joseph Aspell presented “Sight, Insight, Illumination – Art: The Humanity of the Spiritual” on Thursday, March 20, as part of the newly renamed Escobedo Saint John’s Bible Lecture Series.
The event was held in the University Center’s Conference Room A on campus. Volumes of The Saint John’s Bible were on display for close examination.
Aspell led a conversation centering on his art’s exploration of contemporary life through the window of Vatican Council II scholarly renewal. He walked the audience through cathedrals and gardens, universities and retreats, parishes and schools. He explored architecture, landscape design, sculpture, stained glass and great craftsmanship, moving from sight to insight to illumination.
em>The Saint John’s Bible is the first handwritten, hand-illuminated Bible to be commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey in more than 550 years, and its seven-volume Heritage Edition now resides at St. Mary’s University. The Saint John’s Bible was commissioned in 1998 by the Benedictine monks of Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minn. The Heritage Edition, valued at about $150,000, is a full-scale reproduction of the original masterpiece; each volume measures 2 feet tall by 3 feet wide when open. Only 299 sets of the Heritage Edition exist.
Aspell has been creating art and working with churches of various denominations for the past 30 years. Among his achievements is his work as designer for the Papal Visit to San Francisco in 1987. Later the tapestry wing of the Palace of the Legion of Honor, the fine art museum in San Francisco, was reserved for a four-month exhibition of this work. They can now be seen in St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco.
Rubén M. Escobedo (B.B.A. ’60) and his wife, Verόnica Salazar Escobedo, have given $500,000 to create The Escobedo Saint John’s Bible Lecture Series Endowment. Their gift will allow for the recruitment of scriptural scholars, research and curriculum design, and other programming as St. Mary’s seeks to establish a Center for Catholic Studies.
St. Mary’s acquired the Bible in 2013 through the generosity of John and Susan Morrison, longtime friends of St. Mary’s University President Thomas M. Mengler, J.D.
The Saint John’s Bible was created by scribes, artists and craftspeople across the world under the direction of Donald Jackson, one of the world’s most prominent calligraphers. Each set of the Heritage Edition uses the best archival-quality, 100 percent cotton paper, fade-resistant ultraviolet inks, hand stamping and metallic foils containing genuine silver and gold to mirror the original.
Another unique feature of the Bible is that it combines ancient themes with achievements and events of the past five centuries, including the World Trade Center towers and DNA’s double helix. It blends religious imagery from various Eastern and Western traditions, reflecting our modern understanding of the global village.