Calixtus III, Pope 1455-1458
Muntoni 2; Berman 347, PCGS graded MS-62
Rome. + CALISTVS PP TERTIVS, tiara above arms of Pope Calixtus III within quadrilobe. Reverse: MODICE FIDEI QVARE DVBITATIS, St. Peter in boat with long cross.
Although the powerful House of Borgia was generally infamous for the profligacy of its members seated on the Throne of St. Peter, Pope Callixtus III (born Alfonso de Borgia) showed remarkable piety and responsibility during his reign. Faced with the imminent threat of the Ottoman Empire in Europe (Constantinople had fallen only two years before he was elected), Pope Callixtus III called for a Crusade and cancelled building programs in Rome so that the money could be funneled into war. Although western princes were slow to answer the call, John Hunyadi of Hungary won an unexpected victory at Belgrade on July 22, 1456. It is unclear how much of the victory can be attributed to Callixtus’ supposed excommunication of Halley’s Comet lest it appear as a sign of ill omen to the Christian defenders of Europe. Pope Callixtus III was also notable for his retrial of the executed Joan of Arc. She was vindicated for her actions during the Hundred Years’ War and subsequently beatified.