The Franciscan order has been connected to the island of Rhodes since its origins. In 1219, St. Francis went to the Saracens leaving Ancona (Italy) and traveling through the Aegean Sea islands, and Rhodes was an obligatory port.
The first historical information about the Franciscans in Rhodes dates back to June 12, 1457, when De Milly, Grand Master of the Hospitallier Knights of Jerusalem who ruled the island, issued a decree that allowed the friars to live in the monastery of St. Mark, within the walled city. In 1480, the Turks attacked the island which held up against the siege. During this attack, the miracle of the Virgin happened, with the Virgin appearing where the Turks had broken through the walls. After the victory, the Grand Master D’Aubusson had the Church of Our Lady of Victory built there. In 1523, when the Knights were finally defeated by the Turks, almost all of the Franciscans had to leave the island of Rhodes to go to the Eastern Province, with Constantinople at its centre. Between 1523 and 1720, the Franciscans of the Mission of Constantinople, went periodically to Rhodes to administer the Sacraments to the Catholics, enslaved prisoners of the Turks.
At the beginning of 1700s, the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide entrusted the reconstruction of the Mission in Rhodes to the Apostolic Prefecture of Constantinople. The Catholics, two or three families plus about 15 slaves at the time gathered in a small church where the image of the Virgin Faneromeni (the Virgin who appeared during the battle) was venerated.
In 1743, the new church was built to be then enlarged and in 1853 it became the main church of the present Catholic community. In 1875 the Missionary Franciscan Nuns of Gemona came to Rhodes where they founded a school where they taught French, Italian, Greek, female activities and piano.
In 1889 the Lasallian friars came to the island and opened their school in Neochori. In 1897 the Mission in Rhodes became independent from Constantinople and became an apostolic prefecture, including the nearby islands.
The Holy See entrusted the mission to the Friars of St. Francis of Assisi and in 1972 entrusted it to the Custody of the Holy Land.