By Adam S. Eterovich


Croatia and Croatians have had a long historical relationship with the Vatican and the Mother Church thru family relationships, Priests, Bishops, Cardinals, Blessed, Saints, Kings, and the Croatian checkered coat of Arms.

This historical connection was almost always misidentified by circumstance and a lack of a Nation-State or identification. We were from IIlyria, Sclavonia, Slavonia, Venice, Hungary, Austria, Turkey and were not included or identified in ††††††history or books as Croatians.





The color has never been red and white. Heraldic design and science has no color of white. The color is red and silver.

Arms of any kind carved in stone have no way of indicating color. Prior to the invention of color printing, arms were hand painted. The invention of the printing press using black ink created arms in black and white.

In order to designate color, a color code was established, white was silver; dots, gold; veriticle lines, red; horizontal lines, blue; lines slanted left, green; lines slanted right, purple; and black was black.

Checkered arms in Croatia and the West also were silver and black, blue or gold.

Popes and Kings used Seals, Rings and Shields to communicate their authority in written or visual form.




CROATIAN King Petar Kresimir IV gave to the Split archdiocese an artistically decorated baptismal font on which was the Kingís impression and on the pentagram were four falcons. On each of the falcons there was a shield with the checkered coat of arms of 25 squares.

This is the oldest Croatian Arms found with checkered squares and also incorporated within a falcon. I do believe the falcon-sokol is the national bird of Croatia.





The document translated below is a statement of allegiance to the Pope made by King Zvonimir at the time of his coronation in the basilica of St. Peter at Solin.The document is kept in the Vatican Library.

In the Name of the holy and undivided Trinity , in the year of our Lordís incarnation 1076, in the month of October, I Zvonimir, by the grace of God, Duke of Croatia and Dalmatia, having been given authority by you, lord Gebizo, by a legation from the Apostolic See, from our Lord Pope Gregory, in the cathedral of St Peter at Salona, by the election and with the agreement in council of all the clergy and people of the realm of Croatia and Dalmatia, and invested with the STANDARD, sword, sceptre and crown, having been established as King, I vow to you and promise and undertake that I shall steadfastly fulfil all those things which your Holy reverence lays upon me, namely, that in all and through all I shall keep faith of the Apostolic See; and whatever either the Apostolic See or its legates have or shall have ordained in this Kingdom. (Courtesy of the British Croatian Society)

Was the STANDARD the Croatian checkered Arms?




The following checkered Arms displayed in black and white of various Popes from 900 AD to 1200 AD do not indicate color. Research at the Vatican library may reveal more information and possibly the colors.

Croatia was a powerful nation-state during this period and it would be a compliment to the Croatian nation and people if their state symbol was first used by the Popes. Croatia was a Kingdom in 925 AD.


††††††††††††††††††††††† SERGIUS III†† 904-941


The new Pope was Bishop Sergius. Sergius appeared in Rome backed by his friends of the house of Spoleto. Sergius died in his bed still in possession of the Holy See on April 15, 911. He was a Roman and his birthplace was not listed.

His heraldic Arms include the CROATIAN checkered arms in a falcon.



††††††††††††††††††††††† JOHN XI†† 931-936


John XI, the son of Marouzia and probably of Pope Sergius III, was simply an agent of his motherís ambitions.

John died naturally, late in 935 or early 936. He was a Roman.

His heraldic Arms include the CROATIAN checkered arms in a falcon.



††††††††††††††††††††††† BENEDICT VII†† 974-983


Pope Benedict was the Bishop of Sutri and was elected Pope in October 974. He was a partisan of the new reforming movement.

He was a Roman and died in 983.

His heraldic Arms include the CROATIAN checkered arms in a falcon.



††††††††††††††††††††††† BENEDICT VIII†† 1012-1024


He was the younger son of the count of Tusculum. Benedict was an able and energetic man. He acted with authority and decision in both France and Germany.

His heraldic Arms include the CROATIAN checkered arms in a falcon.






BENEDICT IX†† 1032-1048


Benedict was a nephew of the powerful Tusculani family. He was young and wholly secular in his outlook.

Europe was recovering from the Dark Ages and Benedict was constantly in conflict with the emerging powerful nation states.

His heraldic Arms include the CROATIAN checkered arms in a falcon.



URBAN II†† 1088-1099


The new Pope, Odo, Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, came from a noble French family. The most spectacular act of Urbanís life was the publication of the first Crusade at the Council of Clermont in 1085. He died on July 29, 1099 and was beatified in 1881.

The Croatian Chronicle of the Vatican Library relates that King Zvonimir summoned his people to the first Crusade.

His heraldic Arms include the CROATIAN checkered arms with 100 squares.


††††††††††††††††††††††† EUGENE III†† 1145-1153


Eugene was born Bertnard Paganelli the son of the lord of Montemagno in the territory of Lucca.

After the death of Lucius the Cardinals withdrew to the Monastery of St. Caesarius where, protected by FRANGIPANI swords, they could elect a pope in peace.

His heraldic Arms include the CROATIAN checkered arms with 25 squares.


††††††††††††††††††††††† CLEMENT III†† 1187-1191


Paoli Scolari was a Roman and Cardinal-Bishop of Palestrina.

Clement III died in March of 1191.

His heraldic Arms include the CROATIAN checkered arms with 100 squares.





††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† INNOCENT III†† 1198-1216


Lothar of SEGNI was born in 1161.Lothar was the son of Trasimund, Count of SEGNI, and was related through his mother to a distinguished Roman family.

Lothar became one of the greatest medieval Popes.

His heraldic Arms include the CROATIAN checkered arms in a falcon.






††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ALEXANDER IV†† 1254-1261


Rinaldo Conti was the son of the Count of SEGNI and the third Pope of that family to reign. He was Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia.

He was a Roman by birth and was related to Innocent III.

His heraldic Arms include the CROATIAN checkered arms in a falcon.




††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† CONCLUSION


Checkered Croatian town, city and nation-state arms were found in the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Venice, Bosnia, Hercegovina and in Croatia.

Checkered Croatian family arms were found in Austria, Hungary, Venice, Italy Bosnia, Hercegovina and in Croatia.

The hand drawn checkered arms found at Fojnica, Bosnia in 1340 are of particular interest in that many had a falcon and checkered arms in the shield.

At the time of Croatian King Kresimir IV, 1056-1073, and Croatian King Zvonimir, 1076, three popes from 1000 AD to 1100 AD had checkered arms in a falcon or in squares in their shields

I do believe that Croatian checkered arms researched in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Venice, Italy and the Vatican Library will produce documented results as to origin and usuage.

A more expanded study in Booklet form has been published that includes a bibliography, illustrations of all town, city, state, family and other forms of checkered arms.