Church of Our Lady of Victory

Church of Our Lady of Victory (also known as “Sancta Maria”)

The Church of Our Lady of Victory, known simply as “Sancta Maria”, is in the central district of Neohori. The complex includes the monastery of the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land who do pastoral work on the island, and the monastery guesthouse where religious are hosted frequently when they need a break or for study purposes, and volunteers from different countries offering their expertise to those in need – and they are many - belonging to the Roman Catholic Church in the Dodecanese.

Holy Mass is celebrated every day in various languages and the community often gathers here, in particular in St. Claire’s Hall, recently renovated by the Parish priest with the help of friends and volunteers.

Historical Data

During Crusader Times, the Church of our Lady of Victory – later destroyed – was at the northeastern far end of the city walls, next to the St. Catherine Gate. When the Turks conquered Rhodes, in 1522, the Franciscans had to leave the island with the Knights of St. John. In 1719 the apostolic prefecture of the Franciscans of Constantinople re-established its mission in Rhodes, using an ancient church dedicated to St. Stephan on the hill bearing the same name, where a holy image of the Virgin Faneromeni was venerated. In this place was then built the Church of Our Lady of Victory. The new church, built in 1743 and enlarged in 1851, became the main Catholic Church in Rhodes.

The church itself is in the district of Neohori, on the margins of a former pond which dried up in 1926. In that year, the upper part of the bell tower collapsed because of an earthquake. In 1927, with a masterplan by Di Fausto implemented by Bernabiti, the new façade was started and concluded in 1929. The Baroque portal was replaced with an elaborate wrought iron gate, built in Carlo Boselli’s factory in Emilia-Romagna (Italy).

The façade has Crusader style architectural ornaments, on a white plaster background. A niche with a beautiful statue of the Holy Virgin is above the portal.
The interior has a single nave with transept. The church is divided by three cross vaults and ends with a quadrangular choir, with a cupola crowned by a lantern. Unlike the earlier church, the new church was built to appear more simple and more austere. The two lateral altars were removed, and replaced with two chapels dedicated to St. Francis and St. Anthony, and the decorative items were also reduced in number. The right side of the churchyard, paved with a cobblestone mosaic, accesses the monastery which is partly used for parish activities. In 1937, Cosimo Salvatore, a Rhodian marble carver, faced the steps, backs and the frontal of the main altar with Carrera marble. Improvements and renovations to the interior and exterior of the church and monastery have been carried out over many decades and this work still continues today.

On the left side of the church, you can again visit St. Francis’ Nativity at Christmas time. Local people and tourists from all over the island, adults and children alike, come to admire it.

Holy mass timetable

Holy Mass WeekendHoly Mass WeekdayVespers
Summer (May - Oct)
Saturday 18:30
Sunday 12:00 and 18:30
Mon-Fri 12:00n/a
Winter (Nov - Apr)
Sunday 18:30 Mon-Sat 12:00n/a