Time Travel with Bridging Ages in Venice: Back to school at the Armenian college Moorat-Raphael, October 1870

International Public History associations such as Bridging Ages, engages different publics into Time Travels and Living History educational practices. The participants take for granted that collectively recreating the past is a way to understand the roots of cultural diversity and a past that they try to re-experience by questioning their own present. Bridging ages is practicing an applied form of History through the Time Travel method. “Bridging Ages is an international organization focusing on the use of local history and how we apply this knowledge to the benefit of the local community today. Local sites and stories connect the past with current issues of society in Historic Environment Education and Time Travels. Bridging Ages consists of people from schools, communities, museums, universities etc., from more than 20 countries on four continents. […] Kalmar läns museum“Started at the Kalmar Läns Museum in southeast Sweden, Time Travel now has members in twenty-two countries […] which supports this method of history engagement. Based on the concept of Historic Environment Education, Time Travel uses local historical resources as the foundation for an engaging hands-on experience in re-living the past. Schools, museums, and other heritage organizations assist teachers and students in researching a particular period in the past, developing characters to portray and scenarios to act out, and creating activities to do with visitors.” (Dr. Jon Hunner, New Mexico University, Bridging Ages USA).

logoBridging Ages website informs about the Time Travel Method, “or Applied Heritage [which] is an educational method to create reflection on contemporary issues in a local historical setting. This is a way to deepen the learning process, to reach not only knowledge but understanding. The goal is social cohesion and community building. Any contemporary issues could be in focus: Democracy, gender, communication, diversity, migration, health, elderly care, conflicts, education/ learning… and any subject in school: Social Studies (History, Religion, Geography), Science, Mathematics, PA, Craft, Language…. Target groups are schools on all levels, communities, all age groups, tourists, etc.. The five principles of the Time Travel method:

  1. The use of local Sites and Stories
  2. Always several perspectives/ alternatives, most often a bottom up perspective
  3. Key Questions, contemporary issues connected to the past
  4. Working together, several partners
  5. A reflective dialogue in the Time Travel event

Time Travel method is both a process and an event. The Time Travel process is a way to gather people in the community in a study group or learners at school on a certain topic/subject within the curriculum. You work together for some weeks or sometimes even a year or two on the topic/issue you have decided. This process, often more important than the event itself, includes several steps. We often talk about the 7 steps: 1/Goal, Select a Topic, Site. 2/Research together. 3/Landscape. 4/Training. 5/Education in school. 6/Time Travel event. 7/Evaluation.”

unione armeni italiaBridging ages is collaborating with IFPH. Cecile Franchetti, (Bridging Ages Italy), member of Bridging Ages board rooster, bridging-ages-italiaorganised many time travels in the Peninsula already. She wrote a description of the Time Travel that will be organised in Venice October 8, 2015. She organises this Bridging Ages activity together with Jon Hunner (director of the Public History program- New Mexico State University), Father Elia Kilaghbian, (General Abbot of the Mekhitarist Congregation – Monastery of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, Island of San Lazzaro, Venice) and Baykar Sivazliyan (President of the Armenian Community in Italy). Below a description of Venice, October 8, 2015 Time Travel for the year 1870 at the Armenian college Moorat-Raphael.


Mekhitarist Congregation

Mekhitarist Congregation

Back to school at the Armenian college Moorat-Raphael,  October, 1870.armenian embassy rome

Time Travel at Palazzo Zenobio,  the Armenian college Moorat-Raphael  in Venice  

8 October 2015

proposed by Cécile Franchetti, Bridging Ages Venice

In collaboration with  the Mekhitarist Congregation, the Istituto Cavanis, the school San Domenico Savio di Oriago in Venice and with the patronage of the Armenian Embassy in Italy and the support of the Union of the Armenians in Italy (Unione degli Armeni d’Italia)


moorat raphael college

Moorat Raphael College, 1870 Archives of the Mekhitarist Congregation

A time travel to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the arrival of Abbot Mekhitar  in Venice is a further opportunity to recall the long history of life and friendship between the Armenian community and the Italian world, and especially the Republic of Venice over the centuries. During the time travel back to 1870, we will relive a significant moment in which   we will experience the active presence of the Armenian people in the history of Venice and their contribution to the fields of  education and  culture.

Time plan


The Time Travel event –Back to school at the Armenian college Moorat-Raphael, October,1870- will be performed with the participation of 53 Venetian students together with some  Armenian and Italian  teachers and experts of Time Travel. The performance at Palazzo Zenobio will be open to the the press and the public after 11:30 am. It will takr place at the Colleggio Armeno Moorat Raphael (Dorsoduro, 2596 -30123 Venice).

A story that brings to memory  the culture and the traditions of our peoples

The facts

A brief history of Mekhitar (and his mission) and of the foundation of the College Moorat-Raphael in Venice:

moorat college 2

Moorat Raphael College, Archives of the Mekhitarist Congregation

In the beginning of 1700 Mekhitar (the comforter)  founded a Monastic congregation to spread faith through culture and art in Costantinople  and in 1701, he moved it to Modone, in the Venetian Morea (Peloponnese). With the help of his monks he collected many valuable manuscripts  through the Armenian territories of Asia dominated by the Ottomans and the Persians. They made copies  of them in order to save  their precious content . In 1715 the Ottomans conquered Modone and the Morea, and Mekhitar had to escape from Greece.  Since he had entertained good relationships with the Venetian governors, he was invited to settle in Venice, which had been until then the capital of the Peloponnese.

Venice was a rich and international city, the point  of passage and trade of merchandise between East and West, South and North.  Many Armenians lived in Venice. From the fifteenth century,  the city was one of the major centers of the art of printing in Europe, and the first in the sixteenth century.The first printed book in Armenian appeared in Venice in 1512. Therefore, Venice was for Mekhitar the ideal place to continue his mission. In  the eighteenth century the Armenians in Europe were active in trade and banking so that the finances were partly in their hands. Many Armenians lived in Venice. Some of them possessed sumptuous palaces and many invested their capitals in Venice, where they  could freely carry on their activities.The Republic of Venice (the Doge was then Giovanni II Corner ) granted in perpetuity  Mekhitar and his congregation  a neglected island  located in the Lagoon, where centuries before there had been a church dedicated to St. Lazarus, with a hospital . The abbot Mekhitar with his monks settled at San Lazzaro in 1717, building a monastery.

The fathers were masters in the field of education. Since 1746 they founded schools in many other Armenian communities. They  devoted themselves to the study and preservation of  Armenian culture, taking care also to spread it among the Armenians scattered around the world.

To reach this aim,  the art of printing was essential and the monks practiced  it actively, creating a printing workshop on the island , which provided books in the Armenian language for all the Armenian communities in the world.

The Armenian people had no place where to establish a printing industry, so the island of St. Lazarus became the cultural and religious center to which all Armenians referred. The preservation and revival of the Armenian memory are due to the monks of St. Lazarus.

In 1834, two wealthy Armenian merchants, Samuel Mooratian and Raphael Gharamian, who lived in India, made a large donation to the  Mekhitarist Congregation of Venice in order  to establish  colleges for young people of Armenian descent from all places. The Armenian families sent there their children, sure that they would receive the best education possible, which they could not obtain in the various places where the families resided. In 1870, the Armenian College Moorat, founded in Padua (1834), moved to Venice to Ca ‘Zenobio, the seat of the   Venetian  Armenian College Raphael founded in Venice (1836), which had been housed in the palace Zenobio since 1850. The new college Moorat- Raphael became one of the most prestigious colleges. It had an advanced position in the field of instruction: at the end of the five – year study, the students acquired a wide knowledge of European culture and of five languages ​ (three modern languages, ​​in addition to the Armenian language and  their native language);  the certificate  obtained at the end of these courses gave them access to  all Universities.

palazzo zenobio

Palazzo Zenobio, Venice

Time travel at Palazzo Zenobio

During the time travel back to 1870, we will relive a significant moment in which we will experience the active presence of the Armenian people in the history of Venice and their contribution to the fields of  education and  culture.

Students and teachers will re-enact the first day of school inside the prestigious college called Moorat-Raphael in honor of Raphael Gharamian and Samuel Mooratian, two wealthy Armenians from India who made donations in order to establish an Armenian college in Venice. The participants will be dressed in the style used during the mid-nineteenth century.

This time travel will offer to 53 Venetian students and teachers the occasion to rediscover a world of cultural and human relationships which lasted for centuries and are partly still alive.

 The main objectives

  • To reach a better knowledge of the relationships between the kingdom of Armenia and the Republic of Venice, in order to understand the importance of these contacts for the cultural development of both;
  • to increase the curiosity and interest of the students for intercultural contacts;
  • to stimulate personal qualities through the amplification of cultural horizons.

  Organizing committee


Cécile Franchetti, Bridging Ages Italy (photo by Serge Noiret, 2014)

  • Cécile Franchetti – Bridging Ages – Venice
  • Father Elia Kilaghbian,  General Abbot of the Mekhitarist Congregation – Monastery of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, Island of San Lazzaro
  • Jon Hunner – director of the Public History program- New Mexico State University
  • Baykar Sivazliyan –  president of the Armenian Community in Italy .

  Scientific commitee

  •  Cécile Franchetti (Bridging Ages – Venice, curator and project coordinator Time Travel)
  • Alessandro Bertoni (former director of the University Library System, University Ca’ Foscari,  Venice)
  • Father Elia Kilaghbian (General Abbot of the Mekhitarist Congregation – Monastery of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, Island of San Lazzaro)
  • Jon Hunner( director of the Public History Program, New Mexico State University)
  • Anna Harutyunian (Cavanis high school, Venice- San Domenico Savio high school, Oriago)
  • Alberto Peratoner (Theological Faculty of Triveneto – Armenian Mekhitarist Congregation)
  • GiordanaTrovabene (Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage, University Ca’ Foscari, Venice)
  • Baykar Sivazliyan (president of the Armenian Community in Italy)
  • Marino Zorzi (former director of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice).

 We would like to thank Prof. Claudio Callegaro the director of Istituto Cavanis di Venezia and Prof. Pietro Pagan, the director of the school San Domenico Savio di Oriago.

Congregazione Armena Mechitarista  –  Palazzo Zenobio – Academic year 2015-2016

Tentative Work Plan of the activities relative to the time travel

 Day  Activity  Class
Tuesday, September 29 Visit at the Venetian State Archives(9:30 -11:30) Two classes of the schools:Istituto Cavanis and school S. Domenico Savio
Wednesday, September 30 Visit at S.Lazzaro Island (9:30 -11:30 ) Two classes of the schools: Istituto Cavanis and School  S. Domenico Savio
Thursday, October 1 Training Palazzo Zenobio (9:30 -11:30 am) 1 class S. Domenico Savio
Friday, October 2 Training Palazzo Zenobio (9:30 -11:30) 1 class Cavanis
Wednesday, October 7 Preparations at Palazzo Zenobio  Organizing committee

-29 September 2015; 9:30-11.30.

A  visit at the Venetian States Archives: examination of the first treaties of trade and diplomacy between the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia  and the Republic of Venice , some documents regarding  Caterina Corner, Queen of Cyprus  who held also  the title of Queen of Armenia.

-30 September 2015; 9:30 -11:30.

A  visit at the Mekhitarist Monastery:  the heart of the Armenian community and the seat of the Armenian printing –  Island of San Lazzaro.

These two visits are organized  exclusively for the professors and the students who will take part in the event.


  • Armenian Ornamental Art, Nushikyan, Yerevan 2010
  • Giorgio Dissera Bragadin: Venezia da Mar. Città diffusa su cinque mari, Graphy,  Mariano del Friuli 2004
  • Aleramo Hermet, Paola Cogni Ratti di Desio: La Venezia degli armeni: sedici secoli tra storia e leggenda Mursia, Milano 2003
  • Michela Maguolo e Massimiliano Bandera: San Lazzaro degli Armeni. L’isola, il monastero, il restauro, Marsilio, Venezia 1999
  • Alberto Peratoner: Dall’ Ararat a San Lazzaro: Una culla di spiritualità e cultura armena nella laguna di Venezia, Casa Editrice Armena – Congregazione Mechitatarista, Venezia 2006.
  • Marco Polo: Il Milione, Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, Milano 2000
  • Grabriella Uluhogian: Gli Armeni, Il Mulino, Bologna 2009

Bridging Ages Venice

Schools and students, museums and teachers and all who wish to participate are involved in the realization of a time travel. Since 2007, a great interest in the utilization of local heritage through living history and time travels has developed in Venice. The relevant cultural institutions of the city, such as the Venetian State Archives, the Arsenal, the Marciana Library, the Venetian Civic Museums Foundation and the University Ca’ Foscari have worked in collaboration with some  Italian schools from Venice, from Otranto (October 2012) and from Istanbul (October 2013), involved with the Bridging Ages  projects.

Both Venice and Istanbul have been for a very long time exposed to other cultures thanks to their tradition of overseas trade and to the presence of people from many countries. Their mutual influences have enriched both cities.

The time travel method has been applied with success to several educational initiatives relative to the history of Venetian diplomacy and its relationship with the Ottoman world in order to re-enact important diplomatic events in Venice and in Istanbul. All these activities have the aim to stimulate the discovery of each other’s culture and to encourage dialogue in our society.

Bridging Ages Time Travel Key projects

  • Bridging Ages Time Travel in Istanbul: November 2014 – A great day at Parma House, Beyoğlu Istanbul 1902, Atelier Paul Parma 1er Tailleur de S.M.I le Sultan, Costantinople.
  • Bridging Ages Time Travel in Venice: March 2014 – Time travel to 1678, Padua, Elena Lucrezia Corner Piscopia, the first graduate woman in the world – Venice, Italy
  • Bridging Ages Time Travel in Istanbul: October 2013 – Time travel to 1682 at Palazzo di Venezia, Venetian Embassy, Istanbul – Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Bridging Ages Time Travel in Otranto: October 2012- A day at the Monastery of Saint Nicholas of Casole, 1163, Otranto – Italy.
  • Bridging Ages Time Travel in Venice: 23 September 2011 –  Negotiations at Palazzo Foscari in order to sign  the peace between Doge Foscari  and  the Ottoman Empire, 1453, Venice – “Venetonight”-Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy.
  • Bridging Ages Time Travel in Venice: 2008-2009 – At the court of Theodora, Byzantine princess in Venice, 1082- Fondazione Giovanni-Paolo Primo, first-year middle school, Venice, Italy.
  • Bridging Ages Time Travel in Venice: 2006-2007- Signing of the peace treaty between the Republic of Venice and Ottoman Empire, in 1454 at Palazzo Ducale, Venice. Pilot project in collaboration with four elementary and middle schools, Municipality of Venice and the Civic Museums of Venice, Italy.