Christ the King

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Christ the King, a detail from the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck.

Christ the King is a title of Jesus based on several passages of Scripture. It is used by most Christians. The Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations, including Anglicans, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Methodists, celebrate the Feast of Christ the King on the Sunday before the first Sunday of Advent, the Sunday that falls between 20 and 26 November, inclusive. Some traditionalist Catholics, who use pre-1970 versions of the General Roman Calendar, and the Anglican Catholic Church celebrate it instead on the last Sunday of October, the Sunday before All Saints' Day, which is the day that was assigned to the feast when first established in 1925. The title "Christ the King" is also frequently used as a name for churches, schools, seminaries, hospitals and religious institutes.


The name is found in various forms in scripture:

  • "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." (Matt. 2:2),
  • "Jesus answered, 'My kingdom does not belong to this world.'" (John 18),
  • "He has a name written on his cloak and on his thigh, "King of kings and Lord of lords." (Rev.19:16),

also John 1:49, 1 Timothy 1:17, and Rev.15:3.


Pope Pius XI's first encyclical was Ubi arcano Dei consilio of December 1922. Writing in the aftermath of World War I, Pius noted that while there had been a cessation of hostilities, there was no true peace.

Since the close of the Great War individuals, the different classes of society, the nations of the earth have not as yet found true peace... the old rivalries between nations have not ceased to exert their influence... the nations of today live in a state of armed peace which is scarcely better than war itself, a condition which tends to exhaust national finances, to waste the flower of youth, to muddy and poison the very fountainheads of life, physical, intellectual, religious, and moral.[1]

He deplored the rise of class divisions and unbridled nationalism, and held that true peace can only be found under the Kingship of Christ as "Prince of Peace". "For Jesus Christ reigns over the minds of individuals by His teachings, in their hearts by His love, in each one's life by the living according to His law and the imitating of His example."[1]

Quas primas

Christ's kingship was addressed again in the encyclical Quas primas of Pope Pius XI, published in 1925. Michael D. Greaney called it "possibly one of the most misunderstood and ignored encyclicals of all time."[2] The pontiff's encyclical quotes with approval Cyril of Alexandria, noting that Jesus's kingship was given to him by the Father, and was not obtained by violence: "'Christ,' he says, 'has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature.'" He also referenced Leo XIII's 1899 Annum sacrum wherein Leo relates the Kingship of Christ to devotion to his Sacred Heart.[3]

Pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Christ the King in 1925 to remind Christians that their allegiance was to their spiritual ruler in heaven as opposed to earthly supremacy. Pope Benedict XVI remarked that Christ's kingship is not based on "human power" but on loving and serving others. [4]

The hymn "To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King", was written by Msgr. Martin B. Hellrigel in 1941 to the tune "Ich Glaub An Gott".[5]

Schools, churches, and Shrine

Many religious facilities are named in honor of Christ the King:

  • Christ the King Seminary, Diocese of Buffalo, East Aurora, New York [13]
  • Christ the King Roman Catholic Church and School, Denver, Colorado[14]
  • Christ the King Catholic School and Church, North Rocks, Australia
  • Christ the King Catholic Church and School, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • Christ the King Catholic Church and School, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Christ the King Catholic Church and School, Pleasant Hill, California
  • Christ the King Chapel, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa
  • Christus Rex Lutheran Campus Center, Grand Forks, North Dakota
  • Christ the King Catholic High School, Southport, UK
  • Christ the King High School, St. John's, Antigua
  • Christ the King Catholic Secondary School, Nottingham, England

See also the disambiguation page for more institutions using the name.

See also


External links