Pope Callixtus III
English name=Calixtus III
birth_name=Alfonso de Borja
April 8, 1455
August 6, 1458
Xàtiva, València, Spain
dead=dead|death_date=death date and age|1458|8|6|1378|12|31|df=y
Pope Calixtus III (
December 31, 1378– August 6, 1458), né "Alfonso de Borja", was Popefrom April 8, 1455to his death in 1458.
Alfonso de Borja was born near
Xàtiva, València, today Spainbut then Kingdom of Valenciaunder the Crown of Aragon. His early career was spent as a professor of lawat University of Lleidaand then as a diplomatin the service of the Kings of Aragon, especially during the Council of Basel(1431–1439). He became a cardinal after reconciling Pope Eugene IV(1431–1447) with King Alfonso V of Aragon(1416–1458).
He was raised to the papal chair in 1455 as Calixtus III at a very advanced age as a compromise candidate. He was viewed by historians as being feeble and incompetent. In the same year, he issued a Papal bulle (bulletin/edict) to Portugal. This bulle authorized it to reduce to servitude (enslave) "infidels" (non-christian) people. Thus, the Catholic Church gave permission to Portugal and its other subjugate countries to engage in the Trans-Atlantic, African Slave Trade. Therefore, assuring that the enslavement of Africans was not contradictory to the word of God nor the teachings of the church itself - without retaliation or penalization from either.
The great object of his policy was the urging of a
crusadeagainst the Turks, who had captured Constantinoplein 1453, but he did not find the Christian princes responsive to his call despite his every effort.
Pope Calixtus III made two of his nephews cardinals, one of whom, Roderic de Borgia, later became
Pope Alexander VI(1492–1503) and was infamous for corruption.
June 29, 1456, he ordered the bells to be rung at noon (see noon bell) in all the Churchs to call Christians for prayer. As news spread with some delay, this order became connected with the crusade to lift the Siege of Belgrade(which happened on July 22), which was a signal victory against the Turks. To commemorate this victory, Calixtus III ordered the feast of the Transfiguration to be held on August 6.
He ordered a new trial for
St. Joan of Arc(c. 1412–1431), at which she was posthumously vindicated after being controversially tried and executed.
Calixtus III's pre-papal
coat of armsfeatured a grazing ox.
The "bull against the comet."
According to one story, first appearing in a posthumous biography in 1475 and later embellished and popularized by
Pierre-Simon Laplace, Calixtus III excommunicated the 1456 apparition of Halley's Comet, believing it to be an ill omen for the Christian defenders of Belgrade, who were at that time being besieged by the armies of the Ottoman Empire. No known primary source supports the authenticity of this account. Calixtus III's papal bullof June 29, 1456, which called for public prayer for the success of the crusade, makes no mention of the comet, and by August 6, when the Turkish siege was broken, the comet had not been visible from Europe or Turkey for several weeks.
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