Pope Sixto V
© by Darko Zubrinic, Zagreb (1995)
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 Indeed, historical documents say that his father was a Croat from the Boka kotorska bay (now in Montenegro), and his mother was Italian.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.
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).
By a special bull he 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.
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