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San Lazzaro degli Armeni (Italian pronunciation: [san ˈladdzaro deʎʎ arˈmɛːni], lit. "Saint Lazarus of the Armenians"; called Saint Lazarus Island in English sources; Armenian: Սուրբ Ղազար, romanized: Surp Ghazar) is a small island in the Venetian Lagoon which has been home to the monastery of the Mekhitarists, an Armenian Catholic congregation, since 1717. It is the primary center of the Mekhitarists, while the Mekhitarist Monastery of Vienna is their primary abbey.The islet lies 2 km (1.2 mi) to the southeast of Venice proper and west of the Lido and covers an area of 3 hectares (7.4 acres). Settled in the 9th century, it was a leper colony during the Middle Ages, but fell into disuse by the early 18th century. In 1717 San Lazzaro was ceded by the Republic of Venice to Mkhitar Sebastatsi, an Armenian Catholic monk, who established a monastery with his followers. It has since been the headquarters of the Mekhitarists and, as such, one of the world's prominent centers of Armenian culture and Armenian studies. Numerous important publications, such as the first complete dictionary of the Armenian language (1749–69) and the first modern history of Armenia (1781–86), were made in the island by the monks which made it an early major center of Armenian printing.
San Lazzaro has been enlarged nearly four times from its original size through land reclamation. It was recognized as an academy by Napoleon in 1810 when nearly all monasteries of Venice were abolished. A significant episode in its history is Lord Byron's visit in 1816–17. The island is one of the best known historic sites of the Armenian diaspora. The monastery has a large collection of books, journals, artifacts, and the third largest collection of Armenian manuscripts (more than 3,000). Over the centuries, dozens of artists, writers, political and religious leaders have visited the island. It has since become a tourist destination.
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