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This week in Christian history: Constantinople siege ends, Pius II becomes pope

Pius II elected pope – Aug. 19, 1458

Pope Pius II
Pope Pius II (1405-1464), former head of the Roman Catholic Church who briefly led a failed crusade against the Turks. |

This week marks the anniversary of when Italian humanist and politician Enea Silvio Piccolomini was elected head of the Roman Catholic Church, taking the name of Pius II.

The eldest of 18 children who studied the classics at university and was involved in Church politics, Pius II succeeded Pope Calixtus III, who had made him a cardinal two years earlier.

“The central idea of his pontificate was the liberation of Europe from Turkish domination,” noted the website Catholic Answers, noting that the pontiff was “constantly solicitous for the peace of Christendom against Islam.”

“[Pope Pius II] also instituted a commission for the reform of the Roman court, seriously endeavored to restore monastic discipline, and defended the doctrine of the Church against the writings of Reginald Peacock, the former Bishop of Chichester.”

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