After over 2 years of preparation, we finally had the Word of God visit Vanderbilt University medical student CMA section, the SSCD (Society of Saints Cosmas and Damian), in the form of the St. John’s Bible “Gospel and Acts” edition. This Bible, completely handmade and hand painted, in a project that took 15 years and over 10 million dollars, is the first such Bible so produced in 5 centuries! Considered the American Book of Kells, the priceless originals are in Minnesota at St. John’s College, where the Benedictine monks house the unbound version, and the 299 bound 7-volume sets (no more to be produced) are used to inspire faithful to a more close walk with God and unbelievers to understand the goodness and love of the Trinity.
The medical students of the Catholic Medical Association’s SSCD and of Medical Campus Fellowship (MCF, a protestant student group at Vanderbilt) gathered around for over an hour as David Allaway taught with authority about the magnificent work of art that has been created as a lasting tribute to the new millennium and to the beauty of God’s creation.
In fact, as I was looking at this Bible, and it’s depictions of the Word, it dawned on me that I could use several of the plates to speak directly to the loss and spiritual journey of the father of one of my patients. Tonight, after he hugged me tightly and cried and gasped standing next to his ventilated daughter who is struggling to survive, I actually showed him 6 pictures and told an already prepared story to him about the love of Christ and the Father in his own life and that of his family, completely scripted via the St. John’s Bible‘s art. This is what I wrote to Mr. Allaway and Mr. Jim Triggs, both of whom are working with the St. John’s team to bring God’s word alive for the world:
“David and Jim, I just wanted to let you know that I used the six pictures that I took of the St. John’s Bible tonight for the purpose of communicating with the father of a young girl who will likely die based on her neurologic findings today. I used those six pictures to navigate our conversation (words provided of course by the Holy Spirit) about Christ and our Father in Heaven. This helped him understand his role in navigating forward. The Bible is helping to heal others. When I showed him my last picture, which was of the creation story art from Genesis, and explained what the last vertical Gold “God” bar meant, He gasped! And he got it.”