The Solemnity of Christ the King

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King, a feast established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI with his encyclical Quas Primas.

Christ the King

This encyclical proclaimed the central theme of Pope Pius XI's pontificate, "Christ's peace in Christ's kingdom." After witnessing the horrors of World War I and the rise of Russian communism, the Pope declared that the only hope for any society was the acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as King of every aspect of human life.

Pope Pius XI pursued active diplomacy with the nations of the world, seeking to secure the rights of the Church and its faithful at a time when these rights were under attack. He signed concordats with twenty countries, including a treaty with the Italian government establishing the Vatican City State. He pleaded with Russia to stop its persecution of Christians, to which Stalin contemptuously replied, "The Pope – how many divisions has he got?"

The banner of Christ the King was taken up enthusiastically by Catholics in Spain and Mexico, whose governments had taken a strongly anti-clerical turn. When Catholics took up arms in Mexico in the Cristero War, and Spain erupted in civil war , thousands of priests, nuns, and faithful laity were executed, proclaiming "Viva Cristo Rey" (Long live Christ the King) as they faced martyrdom. Many have since been canonized or beatified.

If you want to learn more about today's Solemnity and the Kingship of Christ, there are numerous resources online. Try, the Rosary Confraternity, and this great sermon by an Irish Dominican. There's also two thought-proviking entries at our own Ave Maria Meditations blog.


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