Solemnity of Christ the King
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
Western Rite Orthodoxy
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)
2020 date22 November (ordinary form);[1] 25 October (extraordinary form)
2021 date21 November (ordinary form);[1] 31 October (extraordinary form)
2022 date20 November (ordinary form);[1] 30 October (extraordinary form)
2023 date26 November (ordinary form);[1] 29 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, Christ the King Sunday of Reign of Christ Sunday,[2] 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 Lutheran, Anglican, Moravian, Methodist, Reformed and United Protestant churches also celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, which is contained in the Revised Common Lectionary;[3] the Methodist, Anglican and Presbyterian Churches historically observed this as part of the liturgical season of Kingdomtide, which runs between Trinity Sunday and the Feast of Christ the King. 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.[4] 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.

Origin in patristics

Further information: Christ in Majesty

According to Cyril of Alexandria, "Christ has dominion over all creatures, 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."[5]

"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."[6] 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.[citation needed]


Roman Catholic Church

Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in his encyclical Quas primas[7] of 1925, in response to growing secularism and nationalism, and in the context of the unresolved Roman Question. [8]

In November 1926, the Pontiff gave his assent to the establishment of the first church dedicated to Christ under the title of King. The Church of Our Lord, Christ the King, a promising young parish in the neighborhood of Mount. Lookout, Cincinnati, which had previously been operating out of a pharmacy located in the neighborhood square, soon began to flourish. In May 1927, a proper sanctuary and neighborhood icon was consecrated. Designed by famed church architect Edward J. Schulte, the building exemplifies the designer's signature marriage of art deco decoration in Brutalist construction, principally arranged to mimic Ancient liturgical spaces of early Christianity. [9]

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".[10] 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.[citation needed]

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".[11] He assigned to it the highest rank of "solemnity".[12]

In 2021, the Solemnity day falls on 21 November.[13] The liturgical vestments for the day are colored white or gold, in keeping with other joyous feasts honoring Christ.[citation needed]

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 2021, the Solemnity day falls on 31 October[14] for those using the former calendar.[citation needed]

Moravian Church

In the Moravian Church, Reign of Christ Sunday is the feast marking the end of Pentecostide.[2] Red is the liturgical colour associated with the Reign of Christ.[2]

Lutheran Churches

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

In the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Sweden and the 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.

Anglican Churches

At the Church of England, the "annual cycle of the Church’s year now ends".[15]

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.[citation needed]

Reformed Churches

The Continental Reformed Churches, such as the Christian Reformed Churches, assign the following hymns to be used on the Feast of Christ the King: "Crown Him with Many Crowns", "Lo! He comes with clouds descending", and "Rejoice, the Lord Is King".[16]

In the Presbyterian Churches, such as the Presbyterian Church (USA), at the Feast of Christ the King (Feast of the Reign of Christ) "the church gives thanks and praise for sovereignty of Christ, who is Lord of all creation and is coming again in glory to reign (see Revelation 1:4-8)."[17]

In the United Church of Christ, a Congregationalist denomination, the Feast of Christ the King is the last Sunday of the liturgical season known as the Time of the Church.[18]

Methodist Churches

The Feast of Christ the King is observed in the Methodist Churches, such as the United Methodist Church, as the last Sunday of the liturgical season of Kingdomtide.[19][20] The season of Kingdtomtide itself starts on Trinity Sunday and culminates in the Feast of Christ the King.[20] Methodist parishes have been dedicated to Christ the King.[21]

United Protestant Churches

In United Protestant Churches, such as the United Church of Canada, Uniting Church of Australia, Church of North India, Church of Pakistan and Church of South India, the Feast of Christ the King (Reign of Christ), is observed as the last Lord's Day of the liturgical kalendar.[22]

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."[23]

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. ^ a b c d Richert, Scott P. (29 July 2018). "When Is the Feast of Christ the King?". Learn Religions. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Lectionary" (PDF). Moravian Church. 2012. p. 2.
  3. ^ Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings Proposed by the Consultation on Common Texts, Augsburg Fortress, 2005, pp. 304–305, ISBN 0806649305
  4. ^ Fraternity of St. Gregory the Great calendar
  5. ^ Pope Pius XI, Quas primas, §7, Libreria Editrice Vaticana
  6. ^ Quas primas, §13.
  7. ^ Pope Pius XI (December 11, 1925). "Quas primas".
  8. ^ Kershaw, Ian (2016). To Hell and Back : Europe, 1914-1949. New York. ISBN 978-0-14-198043-0. OCLC 952022143.
  9. ^ Our Lord, Christ the King (Cincinnati, Ohio) (July 19, 2021). "History". maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Pope Pius XI, Quas primas, §28, Libreria Editrice Vaticana
  11. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 63
  12. ^ motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis
  13. ^ "Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 2014.
  14. ^ "Liturgical Calendar 2015". The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-02-04.
  15. ^ "All Saints to Advent". The Church of England. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  16. ^ Meeter, Daniel. "Christ the King: Service planning for the last six Sundays of the church year". Christian Reformed Church in North America. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  17. ^ "Christ the King/Reign of Christ". Presbyterian Mission Agency. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  18. ^ "Liturgical Colors and the seasons of the church year". United Church of Christ. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  19. ^ Baber, Charlie (21 November 2017). "Changed from Glory Into Glory". United Methodist Insight. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  20. ^ a b "Kingdomtide". First United Methodist Church of Orlando. 7 September 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  21. ^ "Christ the King Methodist Church". Christ the King Methodist Church. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  22. ^ "Reign of Christ A". Pilgrim Uniting Church. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  23. ^ Pope Pius XI, Quas primas, §33, Libreria Editrice Vaticana