The Feast of Christ the King takes place on the last Sunday in ordinary time and is meant to emphasize the Kingship of Christ. He is the Anointed One of Israel which is prefigured in the first reading from Samuel: "King David made an agreement with them there before the Lord, and they anointed him king of Israel." Jesus is the anointed one the "Christ" which means anointed and he has come to establish a kingdom that will never end. This Feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI to combat the trend toward secularism that at the time was beginning to infect the culture with a godless world view. Jesus Christ has the power to transform a fallen world that desperately needs an infusion of life saving grace that will make us true citizens of His Kingdom.

Viva Christo Rey!

The History of Christ the King

How the Rise of Secularism Initiated the Feast

Pope Pius XI universally instituted the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King in 1925 in his encyclical Quas Primas. At the time, secularism was on the rise, and many Christians, even Catholics, were doubting Christ’s authority, as well as the Church’s, and even doubting Christ’s existence. Pius XI, and the rest of the Christian world, witnessed the rise of dictatorships in Europe, and saw Catholics being taken in by these earthly leaders.

Just as the Feast of Corpus Christi was instituted when devotion to the Eucharist was at a low point, the Feast of Christ the King was instituted during a time when respect for Christ and the Church was waning, when the feast was most needed. In fact, it is still needed today, evidenced by its institution in many other Christian denominations.

Pius hoped the institution of the feast would have various effects. They were:

  1. That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state (Quas Primas, 32).
  2. That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ (Quas Primas, 31).
  3. That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies (Quas Primas, 33).
Celebrated one week prior to the first Sunday of Advent — a purposeful time of  preparing, waiting, and making straight the path for Jesus in our lives — the feast that proclaims Christ being Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe is just as relevant today as ever.