San Lazzaro degli Armeni

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San Lazzaro degli Armeni
San Lazzaro degli Armeni Venice 01.jpg
Armenian Catholic Monastery of San Lazzaro[1]
Monastero di San Lazzaro degli Armeni
San Lazzaro degli Armeni is located in Venetian Lagoon
San Lazzaro degli Armeni
Location in the Venetian Lagoon
Coordinates 45°24′43″N 12°21′41″E / 45.411979°N 12.361422°E / 45.411979; 12.361422Coordinates: 45°24′43″N 12°21′41″E / 45.411979°N 12.361422°E / 45.411979; 12.361422
Adjacent bodies of water Venetian Lagoon
Region Veneto
Province Province of Venice

San Lazzaro degli Armeni (Venetian: San Làzaro dei Armeni, "Saint Lazarus of the Armenians",[2] Armenian: Սուրբ Ղազար Surb Ghazar) is a small island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, lying immediately west of the Lido. It has been occupied by an Armenian Catholic monastery that is the headquarters of the Mechitarist Order since 1717. The island has been one of the world's foremost centers of Armenian culture.[3] It was a major Armenian printing center during the 18th century.[4]



The island was first mentioned in 12th century Venetian sources. In 1182, the Republic of Venice bought the island and established a leper colony (hospital for people with leprosy) there since it was pretty far from the principal islands forming the city of Venice. It received its name from St. Lazarus, the patron saint of lepers. It was later abandoned and until the early 18th century only a "few crumbling ruins" remained in the isle.[5]

Establishment of the monastery[edit]

In 1700, an Armenian Catholic monk Mekhitar of Sebaste settled in Constantinople.[6] He moved to Modon, Peloponnese in 1703,[7] after being forced to move out of the Ottoman capital.[8] In Modon, he established a new order which was approved by Pope Clement XI.[9] In April 1715, a group of twelve Armenian Catholic monks led by Mekhitar of Sebaste arrived in Venice from Morea (Peloponnese), following its invasion by the Ottoman Empire.[10] The Venetian Admiral Mocenigo and Governor of Morea, Angelo Emo "sympathizing deeply with the fearful distress of the unfortunate community, yielded to their earnest entreaties for permission to embark on a government vessels which was about to leave for Venice."[7] On September 8, 1717, the Venetian Senate ceded the Island of St. Lazarus to the Mekhitarist community. "The Law did not at that time permit the establishments of any new Communities with the limits of the city."[11] "The Armenian Monks at once hastened to occupy the ruins on the Island... and the Abbot ordered the most necessary repairs to be at once made on the crumbling and dilapidated buildings which still remained."[11] The construction of the monastery was completed by 1740.[12] Mekhitar of Sebaste died nine years later, in 1749.[13]

19th century[edit]

Steven Mekon of Constantinople succeeded Mekhitar and remained as abbot until 1800.[14] Aconce Kower, a Transylvania Armenian, replaced him in a time of hardship.[15] The Venetian Republic was disestablished by Napoleon, however, the Mechitarist congregation was "left in peace",[16] allegedly because of the "presence of an indispensable Armenian official in Naopleon's secretariat."[17]


"In the island there is a Picture-gallery with XVIIth and XVIIIth century Venetian and Armenian schools works. S. Lazzaro houses a 150,000-volume library, as well as a museum with over 4,000 Armenian manuscripts and many Arab, Indian and Egyptian artifacts, collected by the monks or received as gifts."[18]

In literature[edit]

Prominent Armenian poet Hovhannes Shiraz wrote a poem about the island highlighting its significance:[19]

Օտար ջրերում հայացեալ Կղզի
Հայոց հին լույսն է քեզնով նորանում...
Գիտեմ տքնում ես, այս է դարեց-դար,
Հայրենիքից դուրս՝ հայրենեաց համար:

An Armenian island in the foreign waters,
You rekindle the old light of Armenia...
I know you are tired, it has been many centuries,
Outside the homeland, for the sake of the homeland.

Notable visitors[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "San Lazzaro". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 30 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "Island of Saint Lazarus of the Armenians". Michelin Guide. 
  3. ^ Murphy, Christopher (2011). Shadows of Forever: The Annals of Forever. Trafford Publishing. p. 311. ISBN 9781426946011. ...had transformed San Lazzaro into a world-renowned center of Armenian culture and learning. 
    • Dursteler, Eric R. (2013). A Companion to Venetian History, 1400-1797. BRILL. p. 459. ISBN 9004252517. ...the island of San Lazzaro on which he established a monastery that became a center for Armenian studies and led to a revival of Armenian consciousness. 
  4. ^ Aslanian, Sebouh David (2011). From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 71. ISBN 9780520947573. 
  5. ^ Langlois 1874, pp. 12-13.
  6. ^ Langlois 1874, p. 16.
  7. ^ a b Langlois 1874, p. 20.
  8. ^ Langlois 1874, p. 17.
  9. ^ Langlois 1874, p. 19.
  10. ^ Langlois 1874, p. 13.
  11. ^ a b Langlois 1874, p. 21.
  12. ^ Langlois 1874, p. 23.
  13. ^ Langlois 1874, p. 24.
  14. ^ Langlois 1874, p. 25.
  15. ^ Langlois 1874, pp. 25-26.
  16. ^ von Voss, Huberta, ed. (2007). Portraits of Hope: Armenians in the Contemporary World (1st English ed.). New York: Berghahn Books. p. 137. ISBN 9781845452575. 
  17. ^ Buckley, Jonathan (2010). The Rough Guide to Venice & the Veneto (8th ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 226. ISBN 9781848368705. 
  18. ^ "Guided visits to Isola di San Lazzaro degli Armeni". Città di Venezia. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  19. ^ Haroutyunian, Sona (2012). "Translations from Armenian into Italian, 1991 to date". University of Venice. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  20. ^ Mesrobian, Arpena (10 January 1973). "Lord Byron at the Armenian Monastery on San Lazzaro". Syracuse University. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  21. ^ Khachatrian, Shahen. ""Поэт моря" ["The Sea Poet"]" (in Russian). Center of Spiritual Culture, Leading and National Research Samara State Aerospace University. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  22. ^ Soulahian Kuyumjian, Rita (2001). Archeology of Madness: Komitas, Portrait of an Armenian Icon. Princeton, New Jersey: Gomidas Institute. p. 59. ISBN 1-903656-10-9. 
  23. ^ ՀՀ նախագահ Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանը պաշտոնական այցով կմեկնի Իտալիա. Armenpress (in Armenian). 25 January 2005. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  24. ^ Սերժ Սարգսյանը այցելել է Վենետիկի Սուրբ Ղազար կղզի (in Armenian). Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Armenian Service. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2014.