In 1836, two wealthy Armenians from famous families from India Samuel Mkrtich Murad (Moorat) and Eduard Rafael financed the establishment of an Armenian college in Venice. It was named Moorat Rafael College in their honor.
The college is located in the Baroque-style Palazzo Ca’ Zenobio which was built in 1690. The order has owned Palazzo Ca’ Zenobio since 1850.
The Zenobio family ordered a well-known artist to paint the ceiling of one of the halls. Today, the artist’s painting (called “Peace and Justice”) is in the collection of the Armenian Order of Mekhitarists on the island of San Lazzaro.
The Moorat Rafael College provided education that met high academic requirements and had an authoritative staff of teachers. Its graduates were distinguished by their aristocratic stature. Patrons paid great attention to the education of Armenian youth and maintained close ties with the Mekhitarists. Famous Armenians, including William Saroyan, have frequented the college.
Today, the palace building is annually provided for the Venice Biennale, as well as Armenian exhibitions and events.