Patriarch of Venice Francesco Moraglia receives the traditional Armenian bread and salt welcome upon arrival to San Lazzaro, with Msgr. Levon Zekiyan, Pontifical Delegate for the Mekhitarist Congregation, to his left.

Celebrations of the 300th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Mekhitarist Abbey of San Lazzaro in Venice

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SAN LAZZARO, Venice – The Mekhitarist Congregation is delighted to announce the official inauguration of the ceremonies for the 300th Jubilee of the Foundation of the Mekhitarist Abbey of San Lazzaro in the Venetian Lagoon.

The official start of the jubilee year on September 8 was preceded by a series of events which included a performance by the world-renowned Tallis Scholars. Their concert, which included two Armenian sacred works, was given on July 14 in the magnificent surroundings of St Mark’s Basilica and was attended by Patriarch of Venice Francesco Moraglia.

September 8 is a crucial day in the history of the Mekhitarist Congregation: it was on this day in the year 1700, that Mekhitar founded his Order in Constantinople; it was on September 8, 1715 that he arrived in Venice; and it was on September 8, 1717, that he established his Order’s permanent headquarters on the Island of San Lazzaro, after being granted permission to do so by the Serenissima, the Most Serene Republic of Venice.

Finally, it was on September 8, 1810, that an imperial decree issued by Napoleon granted the Mekhitarist monks leave to maintain their Congregation on the island of San Lazzaro, while all other religious congregations in Northern Italy were banned and their possessions confiscated.

On September 8, 2017, at 11:00 am, the solemn celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the Nativity of the Saint Mary the Virgin was officiated by the designated Prior of the Monastery, Fr. Serovpe Jamourlian in the presence of Msgr. Levon Zekiyan, Pontifical Delegate for the Mekhitarist Congregation, in the church of the Abbey.

Msgr. Levon Zekiyan, Pontifical Delegate for the Mekhitarist Congregation
Celebrations of the 300th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Mekhitarist Abbey of San Lazzaro in Venice

On Saturday, September 9, at 4:00 pm, the premiere of the documentary film on the life of Abbot Mekhitar, directed by Hakob Papazyan (Armenia, 2017), was screened at the Moorat-Raphael College to a select audience. Among those present, besides Msgr. Zekiyan, was the Diaspora Minister of the Republic of Armenia Hranush Hakobyan, the Armenian Ambassador to Italy Victoria Bagdassarian, and the Armenian Ambassador to the Vatican Mikayel Minasyan. At 6:00 pm, a Solemn Vespers service in the Armenian rite was celebrated at St. Mark’s Basilica in which Patriarch Moragliaand the high clergy of Venice also participated.

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Several events took place on Sunday, September 10. At 11:00 am, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the church of the Monastery, by Msgr. Zekiyan in the presence of Mgr. Moraglia.

After the celebration, at 1:00 pm, the Congregation welcomed all those who had attended the Liturgy to lunch. At 3:30 pm, an exhibition on the history of the Abbey of San Lazzaro and its foundation was officially inaugurated.

The exhibition, which is housed on the monastery premises, will remain open from September 10, 2017 to September 10, 2018. At 5:00 pm in the monastery church, a concert of Armenian sacred and secular music was given by the duduk player Aram Ipekdjian and the Edesse Ensemble, directed by Justine Rapaccioli.

The Mekhitarist Congregation officially declares that the year 2017-2018 will be devoted to the celebration of the 300th anniversary of its foundation. Other events will take place to celebrate the extraordinary figure of Abbot Mekhitar and the role of the Congregation in the religious, cultural, and social rebirth of the Armenian nation, both within its historical homeland and in its various colonies that already existed in those times (from India to Amsterdam and London). The planned events will be announced in due course by the organizing committee via the Armenian press and other official channels. The Congregation will be delighted to welcome all visitors to the Abbey of San Lazzaro, particularly during the planned events for the Jubilee celebration.