It was a task of biblical proportions – drawing every letter and illustration in a Bible painstakingly by hand.

Now, 13 years after its inception, the brightly colored and massive St. John’s Bible is complete, and pages from the finished work are about to go on display.

The Benedictine monks at St. John’s Abbey and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., commissioned the Bible in 1998 to celebrate the beginning of a new millennium.

The first words were written on Ash Wednesday 2000, and the seventh and final volume – “Letters and Revelation” – was completed earlier this year, with the final word – “Amen” – written on May 9, 2011.

“It has far surpassed what any of us ever imagined in our most optimum moments,” Abbot John Klassen said in an interview at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where the final pages of the St. John’s Bible go on display Friday. Klassen, who leads an abbey of about 145 monks located 70 miles northwest of Minneapolis, estimates the project cost about $8 million.

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