Sacred Arts at St. Mary’s University

What is the Certificate of Sacred Arts?
How does The Saint John’s Bible relate to this?

St. Mary’s University is home to a dynamic Sacred Arts program, the only university-based program of its kind in Alberta. This initiative has attracted some of the world’s most distinguished painters, iconographers and calligraphers to teach in our Certificate program. These have included renowned Iconographer, Aiden Hart, Artist and Illuminator/Calligrapher Suzanne Moore, Sacred Artist Jed Gibbons and many others.

The Sacred Arts Certificate was created to celebrate the University’s acquisition of the incredibly fine art reproduction of The Saint John’s Bible, the first hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible commissioned by Benedictine monks in over than 500 years. The Bible was created by an international team of calligraphers and artists that resulted in a 1,165-page manuscript featuring over 160 major illuminations. Bound in 7 remarkable volumes, filled with gold leaf, silver and platinum, this 21st century Bible speaks ancient wisdom through a modern lens, with images of DNA strands, satellite images and even photos from the Hubble telescope built into the imagery. St. Mary’s is one of only 3 universities in Canada to own the entire Heritage Edition.

Sacred Arts image

For more information on registration and workshop schedules contact Elizabeth Cressman, Sacred Arts Certificate Coordinator


In order to maintain the close one-on-one nature of instruction necessary for these types of art courses, enrolment will be limited. Tuition is due at the time of registration. Students may cancel their registration and receive a refund (minus a $50 administration fee) up to 7 days prior to the beginning of the course. After this date, no refunds are given for cancellation.

What courses have we offered?

The Foundations Level Certificate of Sacred Arts is a 120-hour program that combined the study of applied and theoretical arts including traditional Iconography, Oil Painting, Calligraphy, Illuminations and Stained Glass. These courses have been liturgical in their base, rooted in the Christian tradition, while also exploring the influences of other cultural and faith influences on the form.

How does the future look?

The Certificate of Sacred Arts Program is constantly evolving and we will be adding new courses on a regular basis. In the future, those who wish, will commit to a traditional specialization in the Sacred Arts.

As a way of honouring people’s relationships with the Sacred Arts across major world faiths, some registrants may decide to include other courses such as Watercolours, Calligraphy of the Bible, Wooden Sculptures, Choral Music, Charcoal Drawings and more.

We have a goal of developing a new Intermediate Certificate of Sacred Arts in the near future. An additional 120-hours of study will encourage more experienced artists to further develop their understandings and expertise at St. Mary’s University.

Current Offerings:

Watercolours For Novices

September 6 @ 6:00 pm - October 4 @ 6:00 pm

Sacred Arts – Walk & Talk

September 28 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

The Hand-Written Bible: Then and Now

October 18 @ 6:00 pm - November 16 @ 9:00 am