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Feast of Christ the King: Origin and Meaning, Celebration, Prayers

Feast of Christ the King: Origin and Meaning, Celebration, Prayers

A great Catholic feast instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, the feast of Christ the King of the Universe celebrates the royalty of Christ, which is manifested by the Paschal Mystery. Originally celebrated on the last Sunday of October, it takes place today at the end of November, and thus closes the liturgical calendar, opening us to the eschatological dimension of the reign of Christ, as we repeat in the prayer of Our Father: “Thy Kingdom come!”

Discover the meaning and origin of the feast of Christ the King of the Universe and the celebration of this solemnity by the Catholic Church!

What is the Feast of Christ the King of the Universe?

Origin of the Feast of Christ the King of the Universe

Instituted by Pope Pius XI at the beginning of the twentieth century, the feast of Christ the King had the primary objective of affirming the royalty of Christ as a “social kingdom” and thus combating growing secularism and the loss of power of the Church in society. After the reform of the Second Vatican Council, this feast changed its liturgical orientation and took the name of “Feast of Christ the King of the Universe”: the royalty of Christ is more presented in its eschatological dimension, that is to say at the end of time.

Current theological meaning

The revision of the liturgy has profoundly transformed the meaning of the feast of Christ the King. The Church affirms today that it is through the Paschal Mystery that Christ establishes his reign, which will not find its true fulfillment until the end of time, when Jesus “will give all things to the Father” (Preface of the Mass).

The Church also emphasizes that, through the resurrection of Christ, all creation is recapitulated.


Placed at the end of the liturgical year, this feast invites us to reflect on the coming establishment of the kingdom of Christ, over all creation. Indeed, since the resurrection, we are in the last age and are waiting for the last advent!

What is the royalty of Christ?

In his letter to the Colossians, Saint Paul defines the royalty of Jesus as follows: “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” (Colossians 1:15-18)


But, as Jesus reminds us throughout his journey on Earth, “Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:25); "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45).


Thus, the kingship of Christ combines glory with the cross! On the feast day of Christ the King of the Universe, we celebrate the royalty of Christ, son of God and savior, king of creation; but also that of Jesus, servant delivered for our sins.



Origin of the Feast of Christ the King of the Universe

The Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe, celebrated at the end of the liturgical year, connects the royalty of Jesus in its eschatological dimension with the mystery of the cross.

The entire liturgy insists on this duality, thus expressing that the royalty of Christ results from the paschal mystery of Jesus: "You have consecrated as Eternal Priest and King of the universe your only Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, so that he may offer himself on the altar of the Cross as a pure and peaceful victim, to accomplish the mysteries of our redemption, and that, after submitting all creatures to his power, he may entrust to your sovereign power an unlimited and endless reign: a reign of life and truth, a reign of grace and holiness, a reign of justice, love and peace" (Preface of the office).


The biblical readings of this feast day, according to the liturgical year, are as follows: 

  • In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus sets up the scene of his return in glory at the end of time: “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” (Matthew 25:32-33)
  • With the evangelist Saint John, we reread the scene of the judgment of Christ before Pilate: “Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world […] now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)
  • Finally, year C leads us to meditate on the scene of the crucifixion, with the good thief who asks Jesus: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42).


Thus, the entire liturgy of the feast of Christ the King of the Universe invites us to meditate on the royalty of Christ, which is not that of the world, but that whose source is “the altar of the cross.”

Pray with Hozana for the Feast of Christ the King!

With Hozana, pray to Christ, king of glory and savior delivered out of love for us! Find prayer proposals and online communities to prepare for the feast of Christ the King of the Universe:

Association Hozana - 8 rue du Palais de Justice, 69005 Lyon

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