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Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat – Christ the King

​Christus vincit,

Christ reigns,

​Christus regnat,

Christ conquers,

​Christus imperat.

Christ commands.

Christ the King, a detail from the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck. St Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent.

Following the end of the World War I, shortly after his election, Pope Pius XI observed that there was not peace, merely a cessation in hostilities. Societies, which had forgotten Christ, could not be at peace. His words were prescient.

Two landmark encyclicals – UBI ARCANO DEI CONSILIO (On the Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ, 1922) and QUAS PRIMAS (On the Feast of Christ the King, 1925) – laid the foundation for the annual public ceremonies of The Feast of Christ the King, consistent with the axiom: Legem redendi lex statute supplicandi – 'The rule of faith is directed by the law of worship.' (Quas §12)

Pius XI, went on to demonstrate that neither encyclicals, nor other writings or teaching, were satisfactory to convey the true meaning of Christ the King. Only by instituting an annual public ceremony to which all Catholics would enjoin, would the exhaustive reign of Christ be understood.

Recalling the words of Leo XIII, Pius XI noted: "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ." (Quas §18)

Christ's reign is absolute.

Yet a rejection of Christ's reign has gathered pace, just as harmony and happiness across societies has deteriorated. Pius XI lamented (Quas §24) "the seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretence of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin."

He continued (ibid.): "We firmly hope, however, that the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in future will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to our loving Saviour."

However, Pius XI was cautious (ibid.): "It would be the duty of Catholics to do all they can to bring about this happy result. Many of these, however, have neither the station in society nor the authority which should belong to those who bear the torch of truth. This state of things may perhaps be attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the Church become bolder in their attacks. But if the faithful were generally to understand that it behooves them ever to fight courageously under the banner of Christ their King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win over to their Lord those hearts that are bitter and estranged from him, and would valiantly defend his rights."

Those good people who are timid, embolden the enemies of Christ: instead, fight courageously under the banner of Christ the King.

As Catholics in policing, we perform our duties to God also through our roles and Oath. We are about the business of peace in society. The teaching of Pius XI is a timely reminder that for all, not least ourselves, peace will only be achieved with first regard to a higher purpose, not just 'interiorly in our hearts, but in our minds, our wills, our bodies and our members (all parts of society)' (Quas §33).

The Feast of Christ the King initially (and still for those using the General Roman Calendar of 1960) was celebrated on "the last Sunday of October (Sunday 29 October 2023)... because it is at the end of the liturgical year, and thus the feast of the Kingship of Christ sets the crowning glory upon the mysteries of the life of Christ already commemorated during the year, and, before celebrating the triumph of all the Saints, we proclaim and extol the glory of him who triumphs in all the Saints and in all the Elect." (Quas §29) The General Roman Calendar of 1969 moved the Feast to the Last Sunday of Ordinary Time, this year Sunday 26 November 2023.

Per St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians 1:10: "... re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in Him."


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