Pope Callixtus III
|Papacy began||8 April 1455|
|Papacy ended||6 August 1458|
|Consecration||31 August 1429
by Pierre de Foix
|Created Cardinal||2 May 1444
by Eugine IV
|Birth name||Alfonso de Borja|
31 December 1378|
Canals, Valencia, Crown of Aragon
|Died||6 August 1458
Rome, Papal States
|Other popes named Callixtus|
|Papal styles of
Pope Callixtus III
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
Pope Callixtus III or Callistus III (31 December 1378 – 6 August 1458), born Alfons de Borja, was Pope from 8 April 1455 to his death in 1458. He was the last pope to take the name "Callixtus" upon his election.
Alfons de Borja was born in La Torreta, now a neighbourhood of Canals, Valencia – today in Spain – but at that time in the Señorío de Torre de Canals, Kingdom of Valencia under the Crown of Aragon. He was the son of Domingo de Borja and Francina Llançol. He was baptized at St. Mary's Basilica in Xativa, where he is now honored with a statue.
During the western schism, he supported Antipope Benedict XIII, and was the driving force behind Antipope Clement VIII's submission to Pope Martin V in 1429. His early career was spent as a professor of law at the University of Lleida, where he received his doctorate, and he then served as a diplomat to the Kings of Aragon, especially during the Council of Basel (1431–1439). He became a cardinal after reconciling Pope Eugene IV with King Alfonso V of Aragon.
While he was a young priest, he attended a sermon by St. Vincent Ferrer. At the end of his message, the Dominican said to the future pope: "My son, you one day will be called to be the ornament of your house and of your country. You will be invested with the highest dignity that can fall to the lot of man. After my death, I shall be the object of your special honor. Endeavor to persevere in a life of virtue." As pope, Borja canonized Ferrer, on 3 June 1455. Callixtus III's pre-papal coat of arms featured a grazing ox.
He was raised to the papal chair in 1455 at a very advanced age, as a "compromise candidate" in the papal conclave that year, taking the name Callixtus III. He is viewed by historians as being extremely pious, and a firm believer in the authority of the Holy See.
Not quite two years after the Fall of Constantinople, as pope he was chiefly concerned with the organization of Christian Europe against an invasion by the Turks. An extensive building program under way in Rome was cancelled and the money funneled toward a crusade. Nuncios were dispatched to all the countries of Europe to beseech the princes to join once more in an effort to check the danger of a Turkish invasion. Missionaries were sent to England, France, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, and Aragon to preach the Crusade, and to engage the prayers of the faithful for the success of the enterprise. It was by order of Callistus III that the bells were rung at midday to remind the faithful that they should pray for the welfare of the crusaders.
The princes of Europe were slow in responding to the call of the pope, largely due to national rivalries. England and France were at war. Forces led by Janos Hunyady, Captain-General of Hungary, met the Turks and defeated them at Belgrade (22 July, 1456). Shortly after his victory, Hunyady himself died of a fever. On 29 June 1456, Callixtus ordered the church bells to be rung at noon (see noon bell) as a call to prayer for the welfare of those defending Belgrade. To commemorate this victory, Callixtus III ordered the Feast of the Transfiguration to be held on 6 August.
In 1456, he issued the papal bull Inter Caetera to Portugal (not to be confused with Inter Caetera of 1493). This bull reaffirmed the earlier bulls Dum Diversas and Romanus Pontifex, which recognized Portugal's rights to territories it had discovered along the West African coast, and the enslavement of infidels and non-Christians captured there. This confirmation of Romanus Pontifex also gave the Portuguese the military Order of Christ under Prince Henry the Navigator. Inter Caetera of 1456 was in direct contradiction to the stance taken by Pope Eugene IV in the 1435 bull Sicut Dudum, which prohibited capturing slaves in the Canary Islands.
On 20 February 1456, Pope Callixtus III elevated two of his nephews to the position of cardinal. The first of them was Rodrigo de Borja ("Borgia" in Italian), who later became Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503), infamous for his alleged corruption and immorality. The second was Luis Julian de Milà.
Callixtus ordered a new trial for St. Joan of Arc (c. 1412–1431), at which she was posthumously vindicated. He approved of the founding of the University of Greifswald that took place in the year 1456.
The "bull against the comet"
According to one story that first appeared in a 1475 posthumous biography and was subsequently embellished and popularized by Pierre-Simon Laplace, Callixtus III excommunicated the 1456 appearance of Halley's Comet, believing it to be an ill omen for the Christian defenders of Belgrade from the besieging armies of the Ottoman Empire. No known primary source supports the authenticity of this account. The 29 June 1456 papal bull of Callixtus III calling for a public prayer for the success of the crusade, makes no mention of the comet. By 6 August, when the Turkish siege was broken the comet had not been visible in either Europe or Turkey for several weeks.
Catholic historian Ludwig von Pastor opined:
"Except for his nepotism, Calixtus III deserves high praise, more especially for the energy, constancy and purpose which he displayed in dealing with the burning question of the day -- the protection of Western civilization from the Turkish power. In this matter he gave a grand example to Christendom, and it is to be observed that in the midst of the military and political interest which claimed so large a share of his time and attention, he did not neglect the internal affairs of the Church, and vigorously opposed heresies."
- Hibbert, Christopher, The Borgias and their enemies: 1431–1519, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008), 11.
- "Anna y Canals. Valencia". palomatorrijos (in Spanish). 12 June 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
... En el siglo XIV se construyó junto a la torre, y aprovechando parte de sus murallas, un pequeño Palacio Gótico que era la sede de la baronía de La Torre, independiente de Canals, cuyos titulares eran los Borja. En este lugar nació en 1378 Alfonso Borja, el que fuera futuro papa Calixto III. ...'
- Rolfe, p. 12
- Statue of Pope Calixtus III,St. Mary's Basilica,La Seu Cathedral,Xàtiva,Valencia,Spain,
- McBrien, Richard P. (2000). Lives of the Popes: The pontiffs from St Peter to John Paul II. San Francisco: HarperCollins. p. 260. ISBN 0060653043.
- Rolfe, p. 12-13
- Reinhart, Albert. "St. Vincent Ferrer." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 24 Jul. 2014
- MacCaffrey, James. "Pope Callistus III." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 24 Jul. 2014
- European treaties bearing on the history of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648, ed. Frances Gardiner Davenport, (Carnegie Institute of Washington, 1917), 27.
- The Lives and Times of the Popes, Vol.4, Ed. Artaud de Montor, (Catholic Publication Society of America, 1911), 190.
- Gower, Ronald Sutherland, Joan of Arc, (BiblioBazaar LLC, 2007), 180.
- John Stein (1913). "Bartolomeo Platina". In Charles George Herbermann. The Catholic Encyclopedia 12. Robert Appleton Co. pp. 158–159. OCLC 1017058.
- Rigge, William F. "An Historical Examination of the Connection of Callixtus III with Halley's Comet", Popular Astronomy, p.214, 1910
- Ludwig von Pastor, History of the Popes, Vol. 2, p. 479-480, 
- European treaties bearing on the history of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648, Ed. Frances Gardiner Davenport, Carnegie Institute of Washington, 1917.
- Gower, Ronald Sutherland, Joan of Arc, BiblioBazaar LLC, 2007.
- Hibbert, Christopher, The Borgias and their enemies: 1431–1519, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008.
- The Lives and Times of the Popes, Vol.4, Ed. Artaud de Montor, Catholic Publication Society of America, 1911.
- Frederick Rolfe, Chronicles of the House of Borgia, 1901.
- Ludwig von Pastor, History of the Popes, Vol. 2 (Second Edition, translated by Frederick Ignatius Antrobus), 1899.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Callistus III.|
- European treaties bearing on the history of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648, Ed. Frances Gardiner Davenport, Carnegie Institute of Washington, 1917. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=23628818
- DIARIO BORJA BORGIA (Spanish)
|Catholic Church titles|
8 April 1455 – 6 August 1458