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A titular metropolitan of the Cyclades (q. v.). It is an island opposite to Lycia and Caria, from which it is separated by a narrow arm of the sea. It has an area of about 564 sq. miles, is well watered by many streams and the river Candura, and is very rich in fruits of all kinds. The climate is so genial that the sun shines ever there, as recorded in a proverb already known to Pliny (Hist. natur., II, 62). The island, inhabited first by the Carians and then by the Phoenicians (about 1300 B.C.) who settled several colonies there, was occupied about 800 B.C. by the Dorian Greeks. In 408 B.C. the inhabitants of the three chief towns, Lindus, Ialysus, and Camirus founded the city of Rhodes, from which the island took its name. This town, built on the side of a hill, had a very fine port. On the breakwater, which separated the interior from the exterior port, was the famous bronze statue, the Colossus of Rhodes, 105 feet high, which cost 300 talents. Constructed (280) from the machines of war which Demetrius Poliorcetes had to abandon after his defeat before the town, it was thrown down by an earthquake in 203 B.C.; its ruins were sold in the seventh century by Caliph Moaviah to a Jew from Emesus, who loaded them on 900 camels. After the death of Alexander the Great and the expulsion of the Macedonian garrison (323 B.C.) the island, owing to its navy manned by the best mariners in the world, became the rival of Carthage and Alexandria. Allied with the Romans, and more or less under their protectorate, Rhodes became a centre of art and science; its school of rhetoric was frequented by many Romans, including Cato, Cicero, Cæsar, and Pompey. Ravaged by Cassius in 43 B.C. it remained nominally independent till A.D. 44, when it was incorporated with the Roman Empire by Claudius, becoming under Diocletian the capital of the Isles or of the Cyclades, which it long remained.
The First Book of Machabees (xv, 23) records that Rome sent the Rhodians a decree in favour of the Jews. St. Paul stopped there on his way from Miletus to Jerusalem (Acts, xxi, 1); he may even have made converts there. In three other passages of Holy Writ (Gen., x, 4; I Par., i, 7; Ezech., xxvii, 15) the Septuagint renders by Rhodians what the Hebrew and the Vulgate rightly call Dodanim and Dedan. If we except some ancient inscriptions supposed to be Christian, there is no trace of Christianity until the third century, when Bishop Euphranon is said to have opposed the Encratites. Euphrosynus assisted at the Council of Nicæa (325). As the religious metropolitan of the Cyclades, Rhodes had eleven suffragan sees towards the middle of the seventh century (Gelzer, "Ungedruckte. . . . Texte der Notitiæ episcopatuum", 542); at the beginning of the tenth century, it had only ten (op. cit., 558); at the close of the fifteenth, only one, Lerne (op. cit., 635), which has since disappeared. Rhodes is still a Greek metropolitan depending on the Patriarchate of Constantinople. On 15 August, 1310, under the leadership of Grand Master Foulques de Villaret, the Knights of St. John captured the island in spite of the Greek emperor, Andronicus II, and for more than two centuries, thanks to their fleet, were a solid bulwark between Christendom and Islam. In 1480 Rhodes, under the orders of Pierre d'Aubusson, underwent a memorable siege by the lieutenants of Mahomet II; on 24 October, 1522, Villiers de l'Isle Adam had to make an honorable capitulation to Solyman II and deliver the island definitively to the Turks. From 1328 to 1546 Rhodes was a Latin metropolitan, having for suffragans the sees of Melos, Nicaria, Carpathos, Chios, Tinos, and Mycone; the list of its bishops is to be found in Le Quien (Oriens christ., III, 1049) and Eubel (Hierarchia catholica medii ævi, I, 205; II, 148; III, 188). The most distinguished bishop is Andreas Colossensis (the archdiocese was called Rhodes or Colossi) who, in 1416 at Constance and 1439 at Florence, defended the rights of the Roman Church against the Greeks, and especially against Marcus Eugenicus. After the death of Marco Cattaneo, the last residential archbishop, Rhodes became a mere titular bishopric, while Naxos inherited its metropolitan rights. On 3 March, 1797 it became again a titular archbishopric but the title was thenceforth attached to the See of Malta. Its suffragans are Carpathos, Leros, Melos, Samos, and Tenedos. By a decree of the Congregation of the Propaganda, 14 August, 1897, a prefecture Apostolic, entrusted to the Franciscans, was established in the Island of Rhodes; it has in addition jurisdiction over a score of neighbouring islands, of which the principal are Carpathos, Leros, and Calymnos. There are in all 320 Catholics, while the island, the capital of the vilayet of the archipelago, contains 30,000 inhabitants. The Franciscans have three priests; the Brothers of the Christian Schools have established there a scholasticate for the Orient as well as a school; the Franciscan Sisters of Gemona have a girls' school. The most striking feature of the city, in addition to a series of medieval towers and fortifications, is the Street of the Knights, which still preserves their blason (Order of St. John) and the date of the erection of each house or palace; several of the mosques are former churches.
MEURSIUS, Creta, Cyprus, Rhodus (Amsterdam, 1675): CORONELLI, Isola di Rodi geographica, storica (Venice, 1702); LE QUIEN, Oriens christ., I, 923 30; PAULSEN, Commentatio exhibens Rhodi descriptionem macedonica oetate (Göttingsn, 1818); MENGE, Ueber die Vorgesch. der Insel Rhodus (Cologne, 1827): ROTTIERS, Description des monuments de Rhodes (Brussels, 1828); ROSS, Reisen auf den griech. Inseln, III, 70-113; IDEM, Reisen nach Kos, Halikarnassos, Rhodos (Stuttgart, 1840); BERG, Die Insel Rhodos (Brunswick, 1860); SCHNEIDERWIRTH, Gesch. der Insel Rhodos (Heiligenstadt. 1868); GUÉRIN, L'île de Rhodes (Paris, 1880); BILLIOTI AND COTTERET, L'île de Rhodes (Paris, 1891); BECKER, De Rhodiorum primordiis (Leipzig, 1882); TORR, Rhodes in Ancient Times (Cambridge, 1885); IDEM, Rhodes in Modern Times (Cambridge, 1887); SCHUMACHER, De Republica Rhodiorum commentatio (Heidelberg, 1886); VON GELDER, Gesch. der alten Rhodier (La Haye, 1900); SMITH, Dict. of Greek and Roman Geogr., s. v.; FILLION in VIGOUROUX, Dict. de la Bible, s. v.; Missiones catholicae (Rome, 1907).