- This article describes the Feast of Christ the King. For the title of Christ, see Christ the King.
The Feast of Christ the King (properly the Solemnity of Christ the King in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church) is a last holy Sunday in the western liturgical calendar, celebrated by the Catholic Church and by some Protestants.
Origin and History in the Catholic Church
Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in 1925, in response to growing nationalism and secularism. In Pope John XXIII's 1960 revision of the Calendar, the date and title remained the same and, in the new simpler ranking of feasts, it was classified as a feast of the first class.
In 1969, Pope Paul VI gave the celebration a new title: "D. N. Iesu Christi universorum Regis" (Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe). He also gave it a new date: the last Sunday in the liturgical year, before a new year begins with the First Sunday in Advent, the earliest date for which is 27 November. Through this choice of date "the eschatological importance of this Sunday is made clearer". He assigned to it the highest rank, that of "Solemnity".
As happens with all Sundays whose liturgies are replaced by those of important feasts, the prayers of the Sunday on which the celebration of Christ the King falls are used on the ferias (weekdays) of the following week. The Sunday liturgy is thus not totally omitted.
Observance in other Churches
Those churches also that use the Revised Common Lectionary observe Christ the King Sunday (titled Reign of Christ Sunday by some) as the last Sunday of the liturgical year, in agreement with the 1969 Roman Catholic date revision. These churches include most major Anglican and mainline Protestant groups, including the Church of England and the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other Lutheran bodies, the United Methodist Church and other Methodist bodies, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ, and the Moravian Church.
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 63
- motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis
- Examples are Pentecost and Trinity Sunday. Indeed before the reform of Pope Pius X most Sundays gave way to any feast that had the rank of Double, and these were the majority (Missale Romanum, published by Pustet, 1862)