Aurora honors Vartan Gregorian’s memory with a $50,000 grant to the Library of the Mekhitarist Congregation at San Lazzaro

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative has allocated $50,000 to support the library of the Mekhitarist Congregation of San Lazzaro in memory of Aurora Co-Founder and member of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee Vartan Gregorian, who sadly passed away in 2021. The grant was announced during the 2021 Aurora Prize events in Venice.

Mr. Gregorian was an outstanding Armenian American humanitarian, scholar, author, educator and mentor, and had built a remarkable career that spanned several decades and crossed the lines of academia and philanthropy. Vartan Gregorian saw libraries as temples of humanity’s accumulated knowledge, and this grant honors his outstanding legacy. 

“We are very glad for the opportunity to honor Vartan Gregorian’s memory in such a meaningful way. Over the years, Vartan played a vital role in many projects and organizations, but Aurora was always special to him. Today, we continue our work in his name, preserving Armenian heritage while advancing humanitarian efforts,” said Ruben Vardanyan, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.

The library of the Mekhitarist Congregation on the San Lazzaro Island contains more than 150,000 volumes in different languages, including manuscripts, ancient books and historical and scientific works. Abbot Mekhitar, the founder of the congregation, and his companions have always seen their mission in publishing, collecting and preserving books, especially Armenian ones. These days, the extensive repository of the Mekhitarist Congregation of the San Lazzaro carries one-of-a-kind historical artifacts, and the monastery remains one of the leading centers for Armenian studies.

“Vartan was a passionate advocate of education and enlightenment, and would have been delighted by Aurora’s decision to support this remarkable library. He referred to books as “stations of hope,” and this gift aims to make sure that the historic records of Armenian culture and heritage kept safe on San Lazzaro Island can be stations of hope for Armenians for centuries to come.” noted Noubar Afeyan, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.

“It is an honor for the Congregation to receive this generous gift from the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, known for addressing urgent humanitarian challenges and providing a second chance to those who need it the most. Vartan Gregorian was truly an exceptional educator, and his legacy will be remembered forever. We are very grateful for this grant and are looking forward to putting it to good use, among the many needs of our library, in Vartan’s name,” said His Excellency Archbishop Levon Zekian, Pontifical Delegate of the Mekhitarist Congregation and Prelate of the Armenian Catholic Church in Turkey.

The 2021 Aurora Prize events took place in Venice, Italy, on October 8-10, 2021. During the weekend, guests and participants, including members of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee, Aurora Humanitarians, and other representatives of Aurora’s community, had a chance to explore the rich Armenian legacy of this location. The events in Venice marked the first time the Aurora Prize Ceremony was organized in Europe.

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