A pilgrimage in the Catholic tradition is a journey to a holy place to venerate it, to ask for aid, and to do penance.
‘The Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ [is]
to be observed yearly throughout the whole world
on the last Sunday of the month of October’
– Pius XI, Quas Primas
The Christus Rex Pilgrimage honours Christ the King and commemorates His feast on the day originally instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Quas Primas. This great solemnity continues to be observed in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite under the General Roman Calendar of 1960.
The Christus Rex Pilgrimage is a 90 kilometre walk which is completed over three days. It commences on the Friday immediately preceding the Feast of Christ the King with morning Mass and a blessing at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Ballarat. Throughout Friday, the Pilgrims walk 30 km to the town of Smeaton. On Saturday, the Pilgrims continue 15 km to the village of Campbelltown, where the Votive Mass of Our Lady Help of Christians is celebrated at midday in a picturesque outdoor setting. The Pilgrims then walk a further 20 km to the town of Newstead. On Sunday, the Pilgrims are transported to Lockwood, from where they walk the remaining 20 km to Sacred Heart Cathedral Bendigo. The Christus Rex Pilgrimage concludes with Mass celebrated at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Sunday afternoon.
The spiritual benefits of the Christus Rex Pilgrimage are bountiful, not just to the Pilgrims, but to the whole of society. While walking along the route, the Pilgrims engage in prayer and song, as well as personal reflection and mediation. The sacrament of Confession is available to Pilgrims almost continuously along the way.
‘When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King,
society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.’
A uniquely Australian feature of the Christus Rex Pilgrimage is the great spirit and fellowship of the Pilgrims. The Pilgrimage is attended by hundreds of Pilgrims from around Australia and the world and attracts people of all ages and walks of life. The Christus Rex Pilgrimage provides a perfect opportunity for Catholics to make new friendships and renew old ones.
Today, the Christus Rex Pilgrimage is conducted by the Christus Rex Society Inc. The Society is made up of a volunteer group of pilgrims, successors to the original pilgrims, and who are united by their great love of Christ the King.