Missouri monk still teaching calligraphy - KMOV.com

Missouri monk still teaching calligraphy

CONCEPTION, Mo. (AP) -- Northwestern Missouri monk Michael Marcotte knows the use of calligraphy might seem outdated as more of the world's writing is done on computers and cell phones.

But brother Michael Marcotte has been practicing calligraphy for close to 40 years, and he's continuing to teach.

The St. Joseph News-Press reports that he is teaching it at Conception Seminary College in Conception and works at a company creating greeting cards by hand that are mass-produced on a printing press.

"I think I have ink in my blood," Marcotte said. "Even as a kid, I was interested in printing. I always wanted to reproduce things."

Calligraphy has been used by monks for centuries as a way to reproduce the Bible. But once the printing press was invented, there was less of a demand for the writing.

Marcotte said monks who copied the Bible "spent so much time immersed in Scripture."

"You have to slow down and look at every single word, every single letter. It becomes more of you, and you become a part of the text," he said.

John Bosco took the class to improve his nearly unreadable handwriting.

"I had terrible handwriting and couldn't read my class notes," he said.

He said his handwriting didn't improve, but his calligraphy was quite good. He now uses it in daily meditations, transcribing lines of Scripture when he comes across ones that strike him.

"Then, throughout the day, I can close my eyes and picture the text," he said.

Eric Huard also took the class and now uses the skill, along with iconography, to create artwork of Psalm 1.

"I'd like to come up with a book, with one (representation) for each Psalm," he says, adding that "I'd always found the image of calligraphy very interesting, and to be able to do something that's a part of our tradition is very meaningful."

Despite advances in technology, a major undertaking has begun in recent years -- commissioned by Saint John's Abbey and University in Minnesota -- to create the first hand-lettered and hand-illuminated Bible, formed with traditional materials such as vellum and hand-ground pigments, since the invention of the printing press.

"It's raising a new level of interest in calligraphy," Brother Marcotte said.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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