Early in the fifth century, St. Honorat came to live on the island of the coast of Cannes which would one day be named for him. A stronghold of Western monasticism, Lérins very quickly became a hub for holy bishops and doctors who contributed significantly to the growth of Christianity in Gaul (St. Césaire, St. Eucher, St. Vincent, etc.).
Attacked by the Saracens several times from the 7'th to the 11'th centuries, the island gave several martyrs to the Church; and it was at the end of this period that the fortified monastery was built.
Prosperous and influential until the 15'th century, the abbey experienced the ups and downs of the commendam (practice whereby the abbot drew revenue from the monastery without residing there). In spite of a reform at the end of the 16th century, it entered a period of gradual decadence and was abolished in 1787: there were four monks left. Abandoned and then sold by auction, the island fell into the hands of several proprietors before being bought by the bishop of Fréjus in 1859. In 1869, the Cistercian monks of the Congregation of the Immaculate Conception took possession of it,making the grounds suitable for their vocation.
The Cistercian Congregation of the Immaculate Conception, founded at Sénanque in 1854 by Dom M.-B. Barnouin, is attached to the Cistercian order of common observance (as opposed to the Cistercians of strict observance, called Trappists).