March 13, 2013— -- There's been some excited chatter that the new pope, Pope Francis of Argentina (formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio), has made history as the first-ever non-European pope. But, while he does have the distinction of being the Church's first South American pope (and is of Italian descent), there have indeed been non-Europeans who've led the Roman Catholic Church before Francis.
The first pope, Saint Peter, was born in the region known as present-day Israel.
Around the year 97, Pope Saint Evaristus, also from the Middle East, took his place as the human head of the Church.
Pope Saint Anicetus hailed from Syria. Pope Saint Victor I came from the Roman province in Africa, which included the area that today makes up part of Libya and Tunisia.
Pope Saint Miltiades came from North Africa and was possibly of Berber descent.
Pope Theodore I was born in Jerusalem and Pope John V came from what is now Turkey.
Pope Sisinnius is yet another pope originally from Syria, as were Pope Constantine and Pope Gregory III.