Lord Byron at the Armenian Monastery on San Lazzaro

Arpena Mesrobian


Byron's brief Armenian episode and his association with the Armenian monks of the Mekhitarist Order on the island of San Lazzaro near Venice may be traced in an unusually large collection of books on Byron, constituting an important segment of John S. Mayfield's library of more than 50,000 rare books and manuscripts, housed in the Syracuse University Library. The Mayfield collection includes several rare volumes relating specifically to this experience. The Armenian monastery on the island of San Lazzaro was established in 1717 by the founder of the Catholic order, Abbot Peter Mekhitar. About fifteen monks now reside at the convent. The order operates a school, maintains a press, and preserves numerous treasured manuscripts and relics. With pride, the monks display the small room Lord Byron used as his study, directing particular attention to the book in which he entered his name for the first time as a visitor on November 27, 1816 and his autograph in Armenian characters.