Pope Callixtus III

Pope Callixtus III was the 209th pope and the last man at this point to choose that name. He was a member of the Borja family and served as pope for more than three years. This article will look at the early and later life of Pope Callixtus III.

Early Life

Born in 1378, the future Pope Callixtus III grew up in Canals, which was part of the Kingdom of Valencia. His parents were Juan Domingo and Francina Llancol who later had four daughters. They had him baptized in Xativa in Saint Mary’s Basilica. Known as Alfons de Borgia, he attended the University of Lleida and studied logic, arts and grammar before earning doctoral degrees in canon law and civil law. While listening to Vincent Ferrer, who would later become a saint, Alfons expressed interest in working for the Church.

Church Calling

Once Alfons heard his calling, he became a delegate and worked with the Diocese of Lerida. This would lead to him working as a rector for San Nicholas and then becoming an administrator. While working with the Kings of Aragon, he decided to become a cardinal but did not receive an official appointment. He finally became a bishop in 1429 and later a cardinal priest.


During the papal enclave of 1455, the cardinals responsible for picking the next pope were divided between two men. To compromise, they elected Alfons as the new pope. He chose the name Callixtus and quickly became known as a pious man. In support of the crusades, Callixtus ordered that the Church ring bells at the same time every day and asked that followers pray to support those at war. He also canonized Saint Vincent Ferrer, the same man who helped him find his place within the Church.

Joan of Arc

One of the main things that Pope Callixtus III did was order a new trial for Joan of Arc. This trial ended with her found innocent of the crimes once leveled against her, which some credit with helping her become a saint. Though Callixtus III did not appoint her a saint, he appointed three men in addition to Saint Vincent as saints. Several decades after his death, some historians claimed that the pope issued a papal bull that excommunicated an early viewing of Halley’s Comet because he believed it was a bad omen.

Quick Facts About

  • He was born on December 31, 1378.
  • His birth name was Alfons de Borja.
  • He died on August 6, 1458.
  • The pope was 79 when he passed away and buried a few days later. His remains were transferred several times before being sent to San Diego.
  • His papacy began on April 8, 1455.
  • The papacy of Pope Callixtus III ended with his death in August of 1458.
  • Pius II became pope 13 days after Callixtus III passed away.

Interesting Facts About

  • Pope Alexander VI was the nephew of Callixtus. Before becoming pope, Alexander VI became a cardinal and was appointed to the position by his uncle.
  • Pope Callixtus III was the first of three popes born into the Borja family. They were a family of wealthy and politically powerful men in Rome.
  • Though buried in 1458, the Church has his remains moved in 1586. The Church then moved his and another pope’s remains to Santa Maria before finally sending his remains to the Chapel of San Diego in the 19th century.
  • He was one of the only popes who left behind an official will. The pope asked that the Church use some of his money to build a new hospital.
  • Callixtus III was pope for three years and 120 days.