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 »  Home  »  History  »  St. Jerome and his importance for Croatians
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St. Jerome and his importance for Croatians
By Nenad N. Bach and Darko Žubrinić | Published  08/1/2020 | History , Education , Culture And Arts | Unrated
According to the Vatican Library, St. Jerome is Inventor of the Croatian Glagolitic Script


St. Jerome, one of the most important spiritual writers of the Western Civilization, who translated the Bible into Latin language, died in 420 AD. His importance for Croatia is analogous to that of St. Martin for France (who died in 397 AD). St. Jerome entered into the history of Croatian literature already in the Middle Ages. In Croatia, there are as many as 64 churches and chapels bearing the name of this saint. The present Papal Croatian Department of St. Jerome in Rome has its roots from the time of Pope Sixto V (16th ct.), who was of Croatian origin. Protector of theologians, librarians, teachers and students, St. Jerome is celebrated on 30th of September.

Dr. fra Anđelko Badurina: Hagiotopografija Hrvatske (Hagiotopography of Croatia), 2003
(containing information about 64 churches and chapels of St. Jerome in Croatia; many thanks to Dr. Ivan Botica)


Pope Sixto V

Pope Sixto V (1521-1590, the pope from 1585-1590), born in the Italian province of Marche, had Croatian roots. Indeed, historical documents say that his father was a Croat from the Boka kotorska bay (now in Montenegro), and his mother was Italian. Due to his enormous contribution to the modern urban shaping of Rome, some specialists (e.g. Giedion) think of him as the earliest urbanist in the modern sense. He initiated building of the Vatican Library. The famous Michelangelo's cupola of the basilica of St. Peter had been erected during his pontificate.



Pietro Gagliardi: Pope Sixto V with a drawing of the church of St. Jerome, 1850.

The portrait is kept in Croatian church of St. Jerome in Rome.


Croatian (Illyric) Capitol in Rome, since 1901 renamed to the Papal Croatian Department of St. Jerome.

Chiesa Rettoria San Giorlamo dei Croati in Rome (source Wikipedia). Here, San Giorlamo = St. Jerome.


He also introduced 15 congregations and reduced the total number of cardinals to 70. It is interesting that the first non-Italian cardinal appointed by Sixto V was a Croat: Juraj Draskovic (Georgius Draskovitius Croata), the Zagreb Bishop and Croatian ban (Viceroy).


Sala Sistina (the Sixtine Hall) in the Vatican Library,
with the figure of St. Jerome on the right (the first column, with blue background), containing the table
of the Croatian Glagolitic Script above his head (on red background).
Note a lion by St. Jerome's right leg.
The table of the Croatian Glagolitic Script above the head of St. Jerome
It starts with AZ VIDI BUKI..., instead of the usual AZ BUKI VIDI...
The same order of glagolitic letters can be found in the Croatian Glagolitic table of the
French scholar Guillaume Postel published in 1538, as well as in the table of
the Italian scholar Luca Orfei published in 1589.
This seems to indicate that the drawing of St. Jerome in the Vatican Library is also from the 16th century.
S. Hieronymus Litterarum Illyricarum Inventor
i.e., St. Jerome - inventor of the Croatian Glagolitic Script.
Many thanks to Darijo Tikulin for sending me the above two photos, issued as a part of the front cover of his book
"Libri iz armaruna moga dida Mate maranguna", Zadar 2018., published by Društvo zadarskih Arbanasa.


By a special bull, Pope Sixto V founded the Croatian (Illyric) Capitol in Rome, the unique national Capitol in Rome in the entire history of the Church (in 1901 renamed to the ``Papal Croatian Department of St. Jerome' by Pope Leo XIII). He rebuilt and reconstructed many churches in Rome, but there was only one newly built church in Rome during his papacy: the Synodal Croatian (Illyric) Church of St. Jerome. It served for the needs of the Croatian people. By a special bull he ordered that it should have 11 priests of the Croatian origin (nationis Illyricae). He also confirmed the Croatian (Illyricae) Guesthouse in Rome (built in 1445). The presence of many Croatian pilgrims in Rome had been confirmed by Dante in his Divine Comedy (Eden, 31, 103), see here:

It is interesting that Dante Alighieri (13/14th centuries) mentions the Croatian pilgrims to Italy in his Divine Comedy (Paradiso XXXI, 103-108):


Qual e colui che forse di Croazia
viene a veder la Veronica nostra
che per l'antica fame non sen sazia,
ma dice nel penser, fin che si mostra
"Segnor mio, Gesu Cristo, Dio verace,
or fu si fatta la sembienza vostra?"

It seems that Dante traveled through Croatia with Croatian Bishop Augustin Kazotic.

All this reveals undoubtably a special affection that Pope Sixto V had for the Croats.



Ive Livljanic: Hrvatska i Sveta Stolica, s osvrtom na glagoljase



Ivan Mestrovic's St. Jerome in front of the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia, Washington DC, USA
A gift from Croatian Fraciscan Glagolitic Tertiaries in the USA


St. Jerome by Ivan Meštrović, Rome, 1942

Pope Sixto V by Ivan Meštrović, Rome 1942.

A famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović is the author of two stone reliefs depicting St. Jerome and Pope Sixtus V.
The reliefs were made in 1942 and are located at the entrance porch of the building of

St. Jerome by Ivan Meštrović, kept in the town of Drniš, Croatia

Croatia has at least two island named after St. Jerome:


Sv. Jerolim island, near Istrian peninsula (archipelago of Brijuni islands), not far from the city of Pula



as well as Sv. Jerolim islet near the much bigger island of Hvar (the islet is a part of Paklinski islands)

Some churches of St. Jerome in Croatia:


The church of Sv. Jere (St. Jerome) on Marjan hill in the city of Split

Church and monastery of Sv. Jere (St. Jerome) in the town of Vis, on the island bearing the same name.


The church of Sv. Jere (St. Jerome) on the island of Vis, the feast of St. Jerome


Parish of Sv. Jeronim in Kaštel Gomilica near the city of Split



Marking hundred years of the Croatian parish of St. Jerome in Chicago, USA: 1912-2012


Klapa Sv. Jeronim, Kaštel Gomilica near the city of Split


Croatian church of St. Jerome in Rome, with Croatian Coat of Arms on the wall.
Photo by the courtesy of Mirna Lipovac, Zagreb.


Grave of the members of the Croatian Collegium of St. Jerome (Hrvatski kolegij sv. Jeronima) in Rome,
in the graveyard of Campo Verano, with Croatian Coat of Arms with the crown. It dates from 1859.

On the right side of the monument is the name of Dragutin Antun Parčić,
distinguished Croatian lexicographer, linguist and Glagolitic priest.


A part of the map of Illyrian provinces (roughly Croatia + Bosnia and Herzegovina)
which had the privilege of using St. Jerome institutions in Rome, 1660
(kept in Rome, in Papinski hrvatski zavod sv. Jeronima - Papal Croatian collegium of St. Jerome).
See [Krasic, Počelo je u Rimu, p. 456].


+ SOCIETAT SANCTI HYERONIMI NATIONIS ILLYRICORUM ALMAE VRBIS
Amblem of the Confraternity of St. Jerome in Rome from 1585,
with coats of arms of Dalmatia and Croatia on the top, and Slavonia and Bosnia at the bottom


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