The Pontifical Croatian College of St. Jerome (Croatian: Papinski hrvatski zavod svetog Jeronima; Italian: Pontificio Collegio Croato Di San Girolamo a Roma; Latin: Pontificium Collegium Croaticum Sancti Hieronymi) is a Catholic college, church and a society in the city of Rome intended for the schooling of South Slav clerics. It is named after Saint Jerome. Since the founding of the modern college in 1901, it has schooled 311 clerics from all bishoprics of Croatia.
In his apostolic letter, Piis fidelium votis, dated 21 March 1453, Pope Nicholas V granted the decrepit church of St. Marina and its precincts to a brotherhood of "Ilyrian" (South Slav) priests on the Borgo San Pietro in Rome. At this location, next to the Mausoleum of Augustus on the left bank of the Tiber, they built a refuge and a hospital, and re-dedicated the institutions to Saint Jerome.
The brotherhood was renamed Congregatio in 1544, and Pope Paul III sanctioned its bylaws and awarded it a Cardinal as sponsor. Pope Pius V raised the Church of San Girolamo to the status of a Cardinal titulus on 8 February 1566. On 20 November 1570, Felice Cardinal Peretti of Montalto became its sponsor cardinal, and remained in this position until 24 March 1585 when he was made Pope Sixtus V.
Sixtus V rebuilt the Church of Saint Jerome (finished 1589), to be used specifically for the people who spoke the Illyrian language, referring to Slavs from the eastern Adriatic, Dalmatia and Boka Kotorska. He established the Capitol, a college of eleven Slavonic clerics at the Church, in his papal bull Sapientiam Sanctorum of 1 August 1589. He named Aleksandar Komulović (1548–1608) from Split the first arch-priest. Between the Capitol's establishment and its abolition in 1901, more than 120 South Slav priests worked in it.
In 1598, Pope Clement VIII gave permission for the hospice by the church to be transformed into a clerical college, but this did not actually happen until two centuries later, when, on 27 February 1790 Pope Pius VI opened a seminary for men who previously used the services of the St. Jerome Capitol. But even then, the seminary functioned only for brief periods without interruption: 1793-98, 1863–71, and finally 1884-1901, after which point the Capitol was abolished. According to politician, historian and academic Natko Nodilo, the Illyrian Academy in Rome was established to better prepare missionaries for the conversion of Eastern Orthodox Serbs.
The College was officially founded on 1 August 1901 by Pope Leo XIII. His apostolic letter, Slavorum gentem, called it Collegium Hieronymianum pro Croatica Gente ("Hieronymian College for the Croatian people"), but after diplomatic intervention from the Kingdom of Montenegro, on 7 March 1902, as well as intervention from several prominent aristocratic families of Dubrovnik who funded the College for centuries, both protesting because it schooled Catholic Serb clerics too, it was renamed to Collegium Hieronymianum Illyricorum (Illyrian Hieronymian College; San Girolamo degli Illirici in Italian).
Some Slav priests received scholarships from the society in 1907, and in 1911 several students enrolled at the college, but this again was interrupted in 1915 by the First World War. The College reopened after the war when Italy and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes signed the Treaty of Rome (1924) and acknowledged the clerical institution under the breve Slavorum gentem. A rebuilding of the college's facilities ensued between 28 May 1938 and 10 December 1939, when six existing buildings were razed to make way for new ones. The college has functioned without interruption ever since. By a decree of Pope Paul VI, dated 22 July 1971, the college was renamed Pontificium Collegium Chroaticum Sancti Hieronymi (Pontifical Croatian College of St. Jerome).
In 1999 the College was among the defendants in the Class action suit against the Vatican Bank and others to retrieve Nazi gold stolen from victims of the Holocaust.