Feast of Christ the King

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Solemnity of Christ the King
Jan van Eyck - The Ghent Altarpiece - God Almighty - WGA07630.jpg
Painting of Christ in Majesty from the Ghent Altarpiece by Hubert and Jan van Eyck (AD 1427)
Observed byRoman Catholic Church
Lutheran Church
Anglican Communion[citation needed]
Methodist churches
Moravian Church
Reformed churches
Other Christian denominations
Liturgical ColorWhite or gold
ObservancesChurch services
Eucharistic adoration for a full day
DateFinal Sunday of the Liturgical Calendar (being the Sunday before the First Sunday of Advent); from 20–26 November, inclusive (in Ordinary Form), or final Sunday of October (in Extraordinary Form)
2021 date21 November (ordinary form); 31 October (extraordinary form)
2022 date20 November (ordinary form); 30 October (extraordinary form)
2023 date26 November (ordinary form); 29 October (extraordinary form)
2024 date24 November (ordinary form); 27 October (extraordinary form)
First time31 October 1926

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, commonly referred to as the Feast of Christ the King or Christ the King Sunday, is a relatively recent addition to the Western liturgical calendar, having been instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI for the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. In 1970 its Roman Rite observance was moved to the final Sunday of Ordinary Time. Therefore, the earliest date on which it can occur is 20 November and the latest is 26 November. The Anglican, Lutheran, and many other Protestant churches also celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, which is contained in the Revised Common Lectionary. Roman Catholics adhering to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite use the General Roman Calendar of 1960, and as such continue to observe the Solemnity on its original date of the final Sunday of October. It is also observed on the same computed date as the final Sunday of the ecclesiastical year, the Sunday before the First Sunday of Advent, by Western rite parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.[1] In 2019, the feast day is celebrated on 24 November.[2]

Origin in Patristics

According to Cyril of Alexandria, "Christ has dominion over all creatures, ...by essence and by nature." His kingship is founded upon the hypostatic union. "... [T]he Word of God, as consubstantial with the Father, has all things in common with him, and therefore has necessarily supreme and absolute dominion over all things created."[3]

"From this it follows that to Christ angels and men are subject. Christ is also King by acquired, as well as by natural right, for he is our Redeemer. ...' We are no longer our own property, for Christ has purchased us "with a great price"; our very bodies are the "members of Christ."[4] A third ground of sovereignty is that God bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as His special possession and dominion. "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matthew 28:18)

The Feast of Christ the King has an eschatological dimension pointing to the end of time when the kingdom of Jesus will be established in all its fullness to the ends of the earth. It leads into Advent, when the Church anticipates Christ’s second coming.

Observance by denomination

Roman Catholic Church

Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in his encyclical Quas primas[5] of 1925, in response to growing secularism and nationalism, and in the context of the unresolved Roman Question.

The title of the feast was "Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Regis" ([of] Our Lord Jesus Christ the King), and the date was established as "the last Sunday of the month of October – the Sunday, that is, which immediately precedes the Feast of All Saints".[6] In Pope John XXIII's revision of the calendar in 1960, the date and title were unchanged but, according to the simplification of the ranking of feasts, it was classified as a feast of the first class.

In his motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis of 1969, Pope Paul VI amended the title of the Feast to "D. N. Iesu Christi universorum Regis" (Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe). He also moved it to the new date of the final Sunday of the liturgical year, before the commencement of a new liturgical year on the First Sunday of Advent (the earliest date for which is 27 November). Through this choice of date "the eschatological importance of this Sunday is made clearer".[7] He assigned to it the highest rank of "solemnity".[8]

In 2022, the Solemnity day falls on 20 November.[9] The liturgical vestments for the day are colored white or gold, in keeping with other joyous feasts honoring Christ.

In the extraordinary form, as happens with all Sundays whose liturgies are replaced by those of important feasts,[note 1] the prayers of the Sunday on which the celebration of the feast of Christ the King occurs are used on the ferias (weekdays) of the following week. The Sunday liturgy is thus not totally omitted. In 2018, the Solemnity day falls on 30 October[10] for those using the former calendar.

Anglican and Protestant Churches

Gold altar cloth used for the Feast of Christ the King at an Episcopal Church

Those churches that use the Revised Common Lectionary observe Christ the King Sunday as the final Sunday of their liturgical year.[11] These churches include most Anglican and major mainline Protestant groups, including the Church of England, Episcopal Church, Anglican Church in North America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other Lutheran groups, United Methodist Church and other Methodist groups, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ, and the Moravian Church. Some, such as the Uniting Church in Australia refer to it in non-gendered terms as feast of The Reign of Christ.

In the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Sweden and Church of Finland, this day is referred to as Judgement Sunday, previously highlighting the final judgement, though after the Swedish Lectionary of 1983 the theme of the day was amended to the Return of Christ. A distinct season of Kingdomtide is or has been observed by a number of churches on the four Sundays before Advent, either officially or semi-officially; in the Church in Wales, part of the Anglican Communion, these four Sundays before Advent are called the "Sundays of the Kingdom" and Christ the King is observed as a season and not as a single festal day.

Significance for the laity

While the encyclical that established this feast was addressed, according to the custom of the time, to the Catholic Bishops, Pope Pius XI wanted the Feast to impact the laity:

"If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God." [12]

See also


  1. Examples are the Solemnities of Pentecost and the Most Holy Trinity. Indeed before the reform of Pope Pius X most Sundays deferred to any feast of the rank of double, and these were the majority. (Missale Romanum, published by Pustet, 1862)


  1. Fraternity of St. Gregory the Great calendar
  2. "Christ the King Day". Holidays Calendar.
  3. Pope Pius XI, Quas primas, §7, Libreria Editrice Vaticana
  4. Quas primas, §13.
  5. Pope Pius XI (December 11, 1925). "Quas primas". Vatican.va.
  6. Pope Pius XI, Quas primas, §28, Libreria Editrice Vaticana
  7. Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 63
  8. motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis
  9. "Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 2014.
  10. "Liturgical Calendar 2015". The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-02-04.
  11. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings Proposed by the Consultation on Common Texts, Augsburg Fortress, 2005, p.p. 304-305, ISBN 0806649305
  12. Pope Pius XI, Quas primas, §33, Libreria Editrice Vaticana

External links

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