Frequently Asked Questions
Below are common questions that we are asked. If you have other questions, please search for that topic at right or contact us. For questions particular to vocations, see the Frequent Vocations Questions page.
About the Institute
Does the Institute have its own seminary?
Yes. Located in the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy, it is named St. Philip Neri Seminary. You may learn more on the International Seminary page.
What is the location of the Institute’s seminary and motherhouse?
The Institute’s motherhouse is located in located in Gricigliano, Italy, near Florence in Tuscany. The motherhouse also serves as the Institute’s seminary, where young men are formed for the priesthood and minor orders.
What is the Institute’s mission statement?
“The mission of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is to spread the reign of Christ in all spheres of human life by drawing from the millennial treasury of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly her liturgical tradition, the unbroken line of spiritual thought and practice of her saints, and her cultural patrimony in music, art and architecture. The Institute accomplishes this primarily through a solid and well-rounded formation of its priests, rooted in Catholic tradition and carried out at its international seminary in the Archdiocese of Florence. Our priests, conscious of the need for their own sanctification, strive to be instruments of God’s grace through their apostolic work discharged in the churches assigned to the Institute, its schools, its missions in Africa, by preaching retreats, teaching catechesis, and providing spiritual guidance. The Institute of Christ the King operates under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception, to Whom it is consecrated.”
What sort of active apostolate does the Institute exercise?
In addition to serving the spiritual needs of the faithful from day to day through the celebration of Holy Mass, hearing confessions, administering the Sacraments to the dying and infirm, teaching catechism, etc., the Institute also offers spiritual retreats, and organizes activities for youth, especially summer camps, and operates schools (in Lille and Montpellier in France and in Brussels, Belgium). There has been rapid growth of the Institute in locations across our nation, and the Institute will continue with the help of Divine Providence to develop here in the United States the broad spectrum of its apostolate as it seeks to promote the Reign of Christ for people of all ages and walks of life. The Institute also has several missions in Africa, where its missionary priests work amid very difficult conditions to bring the truth and charity of Christ the King to those souls who do not yet know Him.
Who belongs to the Institute?
The Institute of Christ the King is a society of apostolic life which has a whole range of possibilities for membership.
Currently, we have about 50 priests who are full members of the Institute, but there is also the possibility for priests incardinated in a diocese to become affiliated with the Institute and thus share in its spirituality without any further canonical bonds.
The Institute of Christ the King also has a growing number of non-ordained members that help our priests in their apostolic life, similar to the way of religious brothers. Our oblates, as we call them, are working with their respective talents and are members of the clergy in a broader sense through the minor orders they receive during their training.
Fledgling members of the Institute are our seminarians, which count 80 worldwide. For two years, the Institute has also had a female branch called the Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus and already count 14. In addition, the Society of the Sacred Heart offers the laity an association with the spirituality of the Institute and has already assembled hundreds of our friends under the patronage of the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Conception.
Is the Institute a French community?
No, it is not. Msgr. Gilles Wach, the founder and prior general of the Institute, being himself of French origin but trained in Italy, has always stressed that the Institute is neither French, German, English, Swedish, Italian, American, nor European, African, nor Asian, but Roman Catholic. Next to Latin, which is used for the sacred liturgy, French is our common language, used for studies and conversation. This gives our members exposure to at least one other modern language and makes it easier for everyone to communicate with the founder for the sake of becoming exposed to the proper charism of the Institute. Most of our seminarians also speak English well, and many are eager to learn more languages, such as Italian or German, which is not obligatory.
Does the Institute have a preference for the baroque style?
Beauty is the outward expression of truth’s perfection. Although the richness of the baroque style admirably expresses the sublimity of the divine truths of our Faith, there are also other artistic styles which, each in their own way, contribute to give us a little glimpse of the heavenly beauty of the eternal Truth. For example, the Institute’s church in Wausau, Wisconsin, Saint Mary’s Oratory, which enshrines a beautiful statue of the Virgin and Child which dates back to the 1470’s, has undergone complete restoration in an authentic Gothic style. The Oratory of Saint Francis de Sales in St. Louis is a very remarkable representation of Neo-Gothic splendor, while the recently restored Old Saint Patrick’s Oratory in Kansas City, Missouri, is a fine example of late-period Classical style and architecture.
Why do the Institute priests wear their own choir dress?
The Institute has its own strong identity due to its holy patrons and canonical life. In 1994, the Institute was placed under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception, and since its foundation, it has been inspired by St. Benedict, St. Thomas Aquinas, and especially St. Francis de Sales.
Traditionally, priests living in a community attached to a church and dedicated to the celebration of the solemn Latin liturgy but without religious vows have been called secular canons and were distinguished by their own choir dress.
In 2006, the Cardinal Archbishop of Florence, responsible for the overview of the Institute’s life, bestowed upon our priests and oblates their specific choir dress. The choir dress consists of a rochet, a mozzetta, the cross of St. Francis de Sales on a blue and white ribbon, and a biretta with a blue pom-pom. The superiors have a blue mozetta, the priests have a black mozetta with blue piping, and the oblates wear the cross and ribbon on the surplice. The blue stands for our complete dedication to the Blessed Mother and is traditionally the color shown on St. Francis de Sales in most paintings of him. The choir dress expresses the strong unity, spiritually, and identity of the Institute and adds solemnity to the liturgy.
What does the Institute’s coat of arms symbolize?
The motto of the Institute is expressed in its coat of arms. At the service of Christ the King, the Institute is totally committed to working for His Reign over the minds and hearts of all people. Thus the globe, or orbis, represents the universal Kingship of Christ. This globe, or orbis, is set on a blue background, since Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the principal Patron of the Institute, and all of its members are especially consecrated to her. The fleur de lys, symbol of purity, further expresses the patronage of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, while being at the same time, the symbol of the city of Florence, near which the Motherhouse and Seminary of the Institute are located.