January 6, 2011
The Church of San Lazzaro, Venice Italy
|Khatchkar (stone cross)|
But back to yesterday. We received a warm, hospitable welcome from the Mekhitarian monks. They opened their island, and embraced a hundred or so worshippers and guests for the Epiphany or Armenian Christmas mass. It was a morning of tradition, communion, canto fit for the finest theater and the ritual of blessing of the holy water for the year to come. After the mass, and while still in church, there was an added ceremony of fraternity between the monks and the congregation. A small cup of the newly blessed holy water was given to everyone to drink. An extra blessing of sorts, that was lovely to partake in and observe.
Afterwards, everyone gathered in the refectory where the monks and seminary students served us a soul warming, home cooked meal of olives and pickles from their orchard and vegetable garden, rice pilaf, roast potatoes, veal and vegetable stew, and of course red or white wine. A lovely meal, in a spectacular room adorned with the wall size 18th century Da Vinci style painting of The Last Supper by Pietro Novelli. An interesting note: above the door to the refectory, written in Armenian are the words "Keep Silent Here". It is their practice to dine in silence, yet they were kind enough to break that rule for us and share in conversation and comradery, and I thank them.
|The Internal Garden of the Cloister|