The monastery and church of St Lazzaro inhabited by the Armenian Fathers can be found on Lord Byron’s beloved St Lazzaro isle. A large garden surrounds the Gothic church rebuilt in the 19th century. Annexed to the church is the Monastery.
Initially the island was given for the use of lepers hence the church dedicated to St Lazarus. When the disease became less common, the island was left abandoned until 1717 when it was given to a noble Armenian monk from Sebaste, called Manug di Pietro who became known as Mechitar (the consoler). He had fled Mondone which had been invaded by Turks, and there on the island founded his monastery.
Both church and monastery were rebuilt and Mechitar chose young co-nationals to learn and study from him and then to spread their knowledge throughout eastern Europe. They translated scientific, literary and religious works into their own language. After his death his ambitious plans were developed further with the purchase of a printing machine in 1786. The institution became known as the Armenian Mechitaristi Fathers and over the centuries the monastery’s libaries were enriched by a long line of Armenian monk intellecutals.
The Napoleonic represssions lef the monastery untouched. Napoleon considered the congregation a home of intellectual and literary treasures.
The monastery now offers an art gallery, a museum, a printing press from the 18th century and a collection of curiosities such as Egyptian, Oriental and Roman archaeological finds and a collection of Armenian manuscripts.
The libary holds many works of art by Palma il Giovane and Ricci, and a beautiful fresco by Tiepolo.
The little church, which was rebuilt after a fire in 1883, is still to this day a place of prayer and study. A piece of Armenia in the heart of the Venetian lagoon.
Visiting times: 3.25-5.25 when there is one guided tour a day, every day
Entrance: full price € 6 reduced € 4,50
Reductions for groups (min 35 people) € 4,50. Children and students € 3
Isola di S.Lazzaro degli Armeni cap 30100 - Venezia