Pope Callistus III

detail of a portrait of Pope Callistus III by Joan de Joanes, 1568; Cathedral of Valencia, SpainAlso known as

  • Alphonso de Borgia


Born to the Spanish nobility; uncle of Pope Alexander VI. Law professor in Lleida, Spain. Diplomat for the royal court of Aragon. He initially supported anti-pope Benedict XIII for the throne, but he reconciled with the lawful Church, and helped Alfonso V bring the kingdom of Aragon back to orthodox Christianity. Bishop of Valencia, Spain in 1429. Created cardinal in 1444 by Pope Eugene IV. Chosen 209th Pope in 1455, he was considered a comprise candidate, was very elderly at the time of election, in poor health, and though he was known as a pious man with lofty goals, he had little skill for the office.

He preached Crusade to re-take Constantinople from the Turks, the topic that would consume most of his papacy. He sent missionaries and nuncios throughout Europe to gather support and arrange logistics, but to little effect. There was little support from any level of the laity for foreign adventuring; conflicts raged throughout Europe for local reasons. Though papal forces won the field at Belgrade on 22 July 1456, their general died of natural causes, and the little support waned. Disputes over the Crusade continued for years, with some priests refusing to collect the papal tax to support it, and decisions for or against it entering into local politics.

Callistus became involved in a nepotism scandal when he made two nephews cardinals and made a third one the Duke of Spoleto, Italy. Ordered the posthumous re-trial of Saint Joan of Arc, at which she was acquitted. Though he spent largely on art for the Vatican, he spent little time concerned with the Humanists and writers of his day, many of whom turned against him.


Papal Ascension


Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Pope Callistus III“. CatholicSaints.Info. 12 February 2019. Web. 26 October 2021. <>