The Borgias- II

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Here is a member of the House of Borgia

Alfonso Borgia (Pope Callixtus III) 

Born in Valencia on the 31st of December, 1378. He spent his early life as a professor of law and then in various ambassadorial capacities before being appointed pope in 1455 where he reigned till his death in 1458.

Serving as a professor of law in the university of Lleida he probably gained entry through the doors of politics as a tutor for the bastard son of King Alfonso V of Naples.

Indeed it was his role in the reconciliation of King Alfonso V and Pope Martin V that earned him the Bishopric of Valencia from which he was admitted into the Roman Curia in 1444 by Pope Eugene IV as a cardinal where he served for 11 years. On his coronation as pope of Rome, he appointed two of his nephews as cardinals and paved the way for one of them- Rodrigo Borgia- to rise into influence and wealth in ecclesiastical politics.

His major role in the Catholic church concerned the Holy Crusades which was focused on the prevention of the invasion of western civilization by the Turks. In 1456 during the siege of Belgrade he initiated the practice of ringing a midday bell to remind Christians to pray for the souls in the Crusades- a practice that is still carried out in some congregations today.

During his tenure, he canonized five individuals: Vincent Ferrer- the man who prophesied his ascent to the throne of St. Peter (3rd June 1455), Osmund (1 January 1457), Albert of Trapani (15 October 1457), and Rose of Viterbo (1457). He also ordered the retrial of Joan of Arc where she was posthumously vindicated.

He died on the 6th of August 1458 after a reign of three years and his remains endured two exhumations and transfers, in 1486 and again in 1510 along with his nephew Alexander VI to the Santa maria in Monserrat of the Spaniards. A postmortem summary of the man’s service to God was given thus by historian Ludwig von Pastor:

“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 amid 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.”

Ludwig von Pastor

Thank you, till next time then, when we will learn more about another of the house of Borgia.

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