Pope Callixtus III

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Pope Callixtus III (December 31, 1378 – August 6, 1458) (Catalan: Calixt III, Spanish: Calixto III), né Alfons de Borja, was Pope from April 8, 1455 to his death in 1458.[1]



Alfonso de Borja was born in La Torreta, now a neighbourhood of Canals, València, today Spain but then Kingdom of Valencia under the Crown of Aragon. His early career was spent as a professor of law at University of Lleida and then as a diplomat in 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 Callixtus III at a very advanced age as a compromise candidate. He was viewed by historians as being feeble and incompetent. In 1456, he issued the papal bull Inter Caetera to Portugal (not to be confused with Inter Caetera of 1493). This bull reaffirmed the Portuguese right to reduce infidels and Africans to servitude by the earlier bull of Romanus Pontifex and Dum Diversas. By doing this the pope reaffirmed the church's consent of the enslavement of Africans. This confirmation of Romanus Pontifex also gave the Portuguese the military Order of Christ, which was under Prince Henry the Navigator.[2]

This was, however, in direct opposition to the stance set by Pope Eugene IV in his bull "Sicut Dudum" of 1435, wherein the said infidels are said to have nonetheless been created in the image of God, and being thus created had reasonable souls, whereby no Christian man could take his liberty.

The great object of his policy was the urging of a crusade against the Turks, who had captured Constantinople in 1453, but he did not find the Christian princes responsive to his call despite his every effort.

Pope Callixtus 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.[3]

On June 29, 1456, he ordered the bells to be rung at noon (see noon bell) in all Catholic churches 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, Callixtus III ordered the feast of the Transfiguration to be held on August 6.

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