The Knights of Columbus (K of C) is a global[citation needed] Catholic fraternal service order founded by Fr. Michael J. McGivney on March 29, 1882.[1][2] Membership is limited to practicing Catholic men.[3] It is led by Patrick E. Kelly, the order's 14th Supreme Knight.[3][4] The organization is named after the explorer Christopher Columbus.

Knights of Columbus
AbbreviationK of C
FormationMarch 29, 1882; 142 years ago (1882-03-29)
FounderMichael J. McGivney
Founded atNew Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
TypeCatholic fraternal service order
HeadquartersKnights of Columbus Building, New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Supreme Knight
Patrick E. Kelly
Supreme Chaplain
William E. Lori

The organization was founded in March 1882[5] as a mutual benefit society for working-class and immigrant Catholics in the United States. In addition to providing an insurance system for its members, its charter states that it endeavors "to promote such social and intellectual intercourse among its members as shall be desirable and proper."[6] It has grown to support refugee relief, Catholic education, local parishes and dioceses, and global Catholic social and political causes.[1][7][8][9] The Knights promote the Catholic view on public policy issues, including opposition to same-sex marriage[10] and abortion.[11]

The organization also provides certain financial services to the individual and institutional Catholic market.[12] Its wholly owned insurance company, one of the largest in the world, underwrites more than two million insurance contracts, totaling more than $121 billion of life insurance in force as of 2023.[13] It is a Fortune 1000 company based on its annual revenues.[14] The order also owns the Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors, a money management firm which invests in accordance with Catholic social teachings.

As of 2023, the Knights reported having over two million members around the world.[15][16][17][18] Women may participate in K of C through the Columbiettes and other female auxiliaries, and boys may join the Columbian Squires. The Order comprises four different "degrees", each one of which exemplifies one of the core principles of the order.[1] There are more than 16,000 local Knights of Columbus councils around the world,[17] including over 300 on college campuses.[19][20]

History edit

Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus

Early years edit

American Catholic priest Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary's Church in 1882 as a mutual benefit society for Catholic immigrants in New Haven, Connecticut.[21][22][23][24] As a parish priest in an immigrant community, McGivney saw what could happen to a family when the main income earner died. This was before most government support programs were established.[24] Because of religious and ethnic discrimination, Catholics in the late 19th century were regularly excluded from labor unions, popular fraternal organizations, and other organized groups that provided such social services.[25]

Although its first councils were all in Connecticut, the Order spread throughout New England and the United States in subsequent years.[26] As the order expanded outside of Connecticut, structural changes in the late 1880s and 1890s were instituted to give the Knights a federalist system with local, state, and national levels of government.[27] This allowed them to coordinate activities across states and localities.[28]

20th century edit

Poster showing a man in Knights of Columbus uniform gesturing toward soldiers in battle

During World War I, the Knights established soldiers' welfare centers in the U.S. and abroad.[29] After the war, the Knights participated in education, occupational training, and employment programs for veterans.[30]

The Oregon Compulsory Education Act of 1922 would have disallowed parochial schools, including Catholic schools, in that state.[31][32][33] The Knights of Columbus challenged the law in court with the ACLU,[34] and, in a landmark 1925 ruling (Pierce v. Society of Sisters), the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down.[35]

To combat the animus targeted at racial and religious minorities, including Catholics, the Order formed a historical commission which published a series of books on their contributions, among other activities.[36][37] The "Knights of Columbus Racial Contributions Series" of books included three titles: The Gift of Black Folk, by W. E. B. Du Bois, The Jews in the Making of America by George Cohen, and The Germans in the Making of America by Frederick Schrader.[36][37]

Meanwhile, though the membership system at the time did not explicitly exclude African Americans, as few as one negative vote (and later, four or five) against a prospective candidate (no matter the size of the council) was enough to deny someone entry. This occurred in a racist manner often enough, especially in the Deep South, that the Josephites helped found the Knights of Peter Claver in 1909 for African Americans. The KoC national leadership later amended their policies so that rejections required a majority of council members.[38][39][40]

Around 1915, during the nadir of American race relations, the Ku Klux Klan began promoting a conspiracy theory claiming that Fourth Degree Knights swore an oath to exterminate Freemasons and Protestants.[41][42][43][44][45] The Knights of Columbus vehemently denied the existence of any such oath, calling the rumors libel.[6] In 1923, the Knights of Columbus offered $25,000 to any person with proof that the fake oath attributed to the fourth degree membership was part of any authentic ceremony.[46] The Knights began suing distributors for libel in an effort to stop this,[47] and the KKK ended its publication of the false oath.[48]

Recent history edit

Knights of Columbus headquarters

As the Order and its charitable works grew, so did its prominence within the Church.[49] Pope John Paul I's first audience with a layman was with Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant, and Pope John Paul II met with Supreme Knight Dechant three days after his installation.[49] During the pope's 1979 visit to the United States, the Supreme Officers and Board were the only lay organization to receive an audience.[50]

Richard Nixon addressed the Supreme Convention in 1971.[51] Ronald Reagan spoke in 1982[52] and 1986[53] and George W. Bush spoke in 2004.[53] George H. W. Bush spoke as vice US president in 1984 and then again as president in 1992.[53] Bill Clinton sent a videotaped message to the 111th Supreme Convention saying the Order's "contributions to the Catholic Church and to your communities merit our applause."[53]

Church historian Massimo Faggioli believes the scope of the Knights' philanthropy can "create influence through money, especially in important places like Rome or Washington, D.C."[9]

Organization and principles edit

Council Assembly Circle
Grand Knight Navigator Chief Squire
Chaplain* Friar* Father Prior
Deputy Grand Knight Captain Deputy Chief Squire
Chancellor Admiral Marshal Squire
Recorder Scribe Notary Squire
Financial Secretary** Comptroller Bursar Squire
Treasurer Purser Bursar Squire
Lecturer* nonexistent nonexistent
Advocate nonexistent nonexistent
Warden Pilot Marshal Squire
Inside Guard Inner Sentinel Sentry
Outside Guard Outer Sentinel Sentry
Trustee (3 Year) Trustee (3 Year) nonexistent
Trustee (2 Year) Trustee (2 Year) nonexistent
Trustee (1 Year) Trustee (1 Year) nonexistent
nonexistent Color Corp Commander* nonexistent
Year Membership Councils
2023[54] 2,000,000+
1982[55] 1,300,000 <7,000
1964[56] 1,000,000+
1957[57] 1,000,000
1938[58] 500,000
1931[59] 2,600
1923[60] 774,189 2,290
1917[61][62] 400,000
1914[63] 300,000+
1909[64] 230,000 1300
1899[63][64] 40,267 300
1897[65] 16,651 195
1892[26] 6,500
1886[65] 2,700 27
1884[66] 459 5

The order is dedicated to the principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism.[67] Membership is restricted to adult male Catholics.[68] As of 2023, there were over two million knights.[69][70][15]

Each member belongs to one of more than 16,000 local "councils" around the world.[17] The college councils program started at Catholic University of America in 1898.[71] The oldest continuously running college council is the University of Notre Dame Council #1477, chartered in 1910.[72] As of 2023, there are more than 300 college councils.[19][20] Separate organizations, known as Fourth Degree assemblies, may form color guards to attend important civic and church events; they are often the most visible arm of the Knights.[73][74]

The Supreme Council is the governing body of the order. It elects insurance members to serve three-year terms on a 24-member Board of Directors.[75][76] Leaders' salaries are set by the board of directors and ratified by the delegates to the Supreme Convention.[77] The seven-figure salaries of senior K of C officers have been criticized as excessive.[77][78]

In 1969, the Knights opened a 23-story headquarters building in New Haven.[79][80]

(*Appointed annually by each council's Grand Knight or assembly's Navigator)
(**Appointed for a three-year term by the Supreme Knight)

Charitable giving edit

Charity is the foremost important principle of the Knights of Columbus.[81][82] At their 2023 convention, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said that the organization had donated $185 million and 49 million volunteer-hours toward charity projects in 2022.[83] Charitable activities include support for refugees, aid for victims of natural disasters, and advocating Catholic ethics, such as opposition to same-sex marriage and opposition to abortion.

Beginning in 1897, the National Council encouraged local councils to establish funds to support members affected by the 1890s depression.[65] Councils also offered employment agency services and provided aid to the poor and sick.[84] Aid has also been dispensed to assist victims of natural and man-made disasters, starting with a flood in Kansas in 1903.[85][86] In 2015 alone, the order donated hundreds of thousands of US dollars to victims of typhoons and other natural disasters.[9]

During times of war, the Order supports aid to refugees. Between 2014 and 2018, the Knights gave more than $2 million to provide food, shelter, clothing, and medical care to persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.[87][9] The Knights donated $250,000 in 2018 to help refugees crossing over the Mexico–United States border who were seeking asylum in the United States and later expanded the program.[18] Within days of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the 2,000 Knights of Columbus in the country worked to help those impacted.[88] They began by providing food and clothing to those at train and bus stations in Lviv who were fleeing into Poland.[88] They then began organizing busses to take people the Polish border.[88] In the first three months of the war, the Knights in Poland helped more than 300,000 people, or 10% of those who fled to that country.[88]

The Knights of Columbus has donated more than $600 million to those with intellectual and physical disabilities.[89] One of the largest recipients of aid in this area has been the Special Olympics, where the Knights have been involved since the first games in 1968.[89]

After the Knights had donated more than 1,000 ultrasound machines to crisis pregnancy centers from 2009 to 2019, Anderson said, "Our ultrasound initiative is now the greatest humanitarian achievement in the history of the Knights of Columbus. ... We can, and I am confident that we will, save millions of unborn lives."[90] Following the United States Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly called on the order to increase their support for women facing unplanned and crisis pregnancies with the Aid and Support After Pregnancy (ASAP) initiative.[91]

The Knights also donate to the institutional church, including being a major donor to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops[9] and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.[92] As of 2017, the Knights' Vicarius Christi fund has contributed more than $57 million to the charitable efforts of the pope.[93] The Knights have supported the Vatican's news operation for decades.[9]

In the field of education, the Knights of Columbus have a number of scholarships and other programs for seminarians, veterans,[94] [[History of the Knights of Columbus and students at Catholic University of America,[71][60] and at other Catholic colleges. Especially during World War I and World War II, the Order operated a number of "huts" to support troops serving in combat, regardless of race or religion.[94][95][96]

Insurance program edit

Early years edit

Year Insurance in force Assets
1957[57] $690 million $124 million
1956[97][a] $650 million
1955[97] $562 million
1953[57] $420 million
1932[86] $300 million
1919[98] $140 million
1897[99] $42,282
1896[100] $12,000

The original insurance system devised by McGivney gave a deceased Knight's widow a $1,000 death benefit. Each member was assessed $1 upon a death, and when the number of Knights grew beyond 1,000, the assessment decreased according to the rate of increase.[101] Each member, regardless of age, was assessed equally. As a result, younger, healthier members could expect to pay more over the course of their lifetimes than those men who joined when they were older.[102] There was also a Sick Benefit Deposit for members who fell ill and could not work. Each sick Knight was entitled to draw up to $5 a week for 13 weeks (roughly equivalent to $155 in 2022 dollars). If he remained sick after that, the council to which he belonged determined the sum of money given to him.[103]

The need for a reserve fund for times of epidemic was seen from the earliest days, but it was rejected several times before finally being established in 1892.[104] It had $12,000 in assets in 1896.[100] By 1897, the method of funding the program changed. Each member was assessed five cents a month for 100 months, so that he would contribute $5.[99]

Since its first loan to St. Rose Church in Meriden, Connecticut, in the late 1890s, the Knights of Columbus have made loans to parishes, dioceses, and other Catholic institutions.[105] By 1954, over $300 million had been loaned and the program "never lost one cent of principal or interest."[105]

In the post–World War II era, the interest rates on long-term bonds dipped below levels at which the order's insurance program could sustain itself, and Supreme Knight Hart moved the order into a more aggressive program of investing in real estate.[106] Under his leadership, the order established a lease-back investment program in which the order would buy a piece of property and then lease it back to the original owner "upon terms generally that would bring to our Order a net rental equal to the normal mortgage interest rate."[106] Between 1952 and 1962, 18 pieces of land were purchased for a total of $29 million.[105] Late in 1953 the order purchased the land beneath Yankee Stadium for $2.5 million.[105][107] In 1971, the City of New York took the land by eminent domain.[108]

Between 1952 and 1962, 18 pieces of land were purchased as part of the lease-back program for a total of $29 million. During this time, the amount of money invested in common stock also increased.[105]

Modern program edit

Year Insurance in force
2023[54] $121
2021[109] $114 $26
2020[110] $110+ $20+
2019[90][68][111] $109+ $26+
2018[112] $109 $26
2017[113] $109
2015[9][114] $99
2014[115] $100 $24
2013[116][76] $90 $19.8
2012[117] $88.4 $19.4
2011[118][119] $83.5 $18.0
2010[120] $79.0 $16.9
2009[120] $74.3 $15.5
2008[120][121] $70.0 $14
2007[120][80] $66.0 $13
2006[120][122] $61.9 $12.2
2005[120] $57.7
2004[120] $53.3
2003[120] $49.1
2002[120] $45.6
2001[120] $42.9
2000[120][116] $40.4
1999[120] $38
1997[123] $30
1992[77] $20
1990[124] $14 $3.6
1981[125] $6.4 $1
1976[125] $3.6 $656 million
1975[126] $3
1971[126] $2
1964[56] $1+
1960[126] $1

The order offers a modern, professional insurance operation with more than $121 billion of life insurance policies in force and $26 billion in assets as of June 2023.[13][109] This places the Order on the Fortune 1000 list[113] and it is large enough to rank 49th on the A. M. Best list of all life insurance companies in North America.[121]

Products include permanent and term life insurance, as well as annuities, long term care insurance, and disability insurance.[116][119][114] The insurance program is not a separate business offered by the order to others, but is exclusively for the benefit of members and their families. All agents are members of the order.[127]

The order's insurance program is the most highly rated program in North America. For more than 40 consecutive years, the order has received A. M. Best's highest rating, A++.[128][129][116][111][b] Forbes publishes an annual list of what it refers to as "America's Best Insurance Companies", and it has included the Knights of Columbus insurance program on this list since 2022.[132]

The order maintains a two-prong investment strategy: a company must first be a sound investment before stock in it is purchased, and secondly the company's activities must not conflict with Catholic social teaching.[12][114] The guidelines include protecting human life, promoting human dignity, reducing arms production, pursuing economic justice, protecting the environment, and encouraging corporate responsibility.[c][12] As of 2017, it had been named a "World's Most Ethical Company" by Ethisphere Institute for five consecutive years.[113] Citing the awards they have won, the order calls themselves "champions of ethical investing."[9]

In 2017, over $965 million was awarded in benefits.[113] Since the founding of the order, $3.5 billion in death benefits have been paid.[134] Additionally, the insurance program has a low 3.5 percent lapse rate of the 1.9 million members and their families who are insured.[116]

Its insurance operation invests in loans to various churches, schools, and other Catholic institutions.[135][136] As of 2008, over $500 million had been loaned through the ChurchLoan program.[135] At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Order established a $100 million fund to provide short-term loans to help dioceses weather the economic storm.[136] Each diocese was eligible to obtain a $1 million secured line of credit.[136]

Promotion of the Catholic faith edit

Efforts against religious discrimination edit

The Knights of Columbus presented a check to Catholic University of America on the steps of the university's McMahon Hall in 1904 to establish a Chair of American History

Since its earliest days, the Knights of Columbus has been a "Catholic anti-defamation society."[137] In 1914, it established a Commission on Religious Prejudices.[137] As part of the effort, the order distributed pamphlets, and lecturers toured the country speaking on how Catholics could love and be loyal to America.[138]

The creation of the 4th Degree, with its emphasis on patriotism, performed an anti-defamation function as well as asserting claims to Americanism.[139][140] In response to a defamatory "bogus oath" circulated by the KKK,[141] in 1914 the Knights set up a framework for a lecture series and educational programs to combat anti-Catholic sentiment.[142]

New evangelization edit

The Knights have been urged to take a prominent role in the new evangelization.[143] The CIS published a series on the new evangelization in 2011,[144] and donations to other Catholic mass communication services represent one of the Knights' major expenditures.[145] The Knights have also established councils in both secular and Catholic universities.[146]

Awards edit

Gaudium et Spes Award
Year Awardee
2023 Mother Agnes Mary Donovan[54]
2016 Little Sisters of the Poor[147]
2015 Cardinal Francis George[148]
2005 Jean Vanier[149]
2002 Archbishop Michael Sabbah
2001 Cardinal William Baum
2000 Cardinal James Hickey
1994 Cardinal John O'Connor
1992 Mother Teresa[147]

The order sponsors a number of international awards. The first, the Gaudium et Spes Award, is named after the document from the Second Vatican Council, and is the highest honor bestowed by the order. It "is awarded only in special circumstances and only to individuals of exceptional merit" and comes an honorarium of $100,000.[150] In the first 25 years after its institution in 1992, it was only awarded twelve times.[150] The award "recognizes individuals for their exemplary contributions to the realization of the message of faith and service in the spirit of Christ as articulated in the document for which it is named."[151]

The second international award, also only given when merited, is the Caritas Award.[152] Named for the theological virtue alternatively translated as either charity or love, it recognizes "extraordinary works of charity and service" and was established in 2013.[152] It was first awarded to Monsignor Robert Weiss, pastor of St Rose of Lima in Newtown, Connecticut.[152] The second was awarded to St. Virgilius Knights of Columbus Council 185.[152] Both received the honor, and the $100,000 honorarium, for their actions following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.[152]

The Saint Michael Award was established in conjunction with the Caritas Award to recognize members of the order who have exemplified a lifetime of service on behalf of the Knights of Columbus. Additionally, at its annual convention each year, the order recognizes other individuals and councils with awards. These include the Family of the Year award, and prizes for the best activities in the categories of church, community, council, culture of life, family, and youth. Additionally, top selling general and field insurance agents are recognized, as are top recruiting individuals and councils.

The order established the Grand Cross of the Knights of Columbus, but awarded it only to Cristobal Colón y de La Cerda, Duke of Veragua and descendant of Columbus, when he visited the US in 1893.[153]

Political activity edit

While the Knights were politically active from an early date, in the years following the Second Vatican Council, as the "Catholic anti-defamation character" of the order began to diminish as Catholics gained more acceptance, the leadership began to use its financial resources to directly influence the direction of the church.[9] That led to the creation of a "variety of new programs reflecting the proliferation of the new social ministries of the church."[154][9]

At times, the leadership of the order has been both liberal and conservative. Martin H. Carmody and Luke E. Hart were both political conservatives, but John J. Phelan was a Democratic politician prior to becoming Supreme Knight,[155] John Swift's "strong support for economic democracy and social-welfare legislation marks him as a fairly representative New Deal anti-communist,"[156] and Francis P. Matthews was a civil rights official and member of Harry Truman's cabinet. Anderson previously served in the Office of Public Liaison under Ronald Reagan.[157]

The Knights of Columbus is classified as a 501(c)(8) fraternal benefit society by the IRS. Unlike the more common 501(c)(3) nonprofits, 501(c)(8)s are allowed to engage in limited direct political activity without jeopardizing their tax exemptions.[158] However, Anderson has said "One of our most important traditions throughout our 125-year history is that we do not, as an organization, become involved in partisan politics."[159]

The Knights of Columbus supports political awareness and activity among its members and local councils. Public policy activity is limited to issue-specific campaigns, typically dealing with Catholic family and sanctity of life issues.[160][68] They state that

In addition to performing charitable works, the Knights of Columbus encourages its members to meet their responsibilities as Catholic citizens and to become active in the political life of their local communities, to vote and to speak out on the public issues of the day. ... In the political realm, this means opening our public policy efforts and deliberations to the life of Christ and the teachings of the Church. In accord with our Bishops, the Knights of Columbus has consistently maintained positions that take these concerns into account. The order supports and promotes the social doctrine of the Church, including a robust vision of religious liberty that embraces religion's proper role in the private and public spheres.[160]

The order opposed the persecution of Catholics in Mexico during the Cristero War,[161] and opposed communism.[162][163] During the 20th century, the order also established the Commission on Religious Prejudices and the Knights of Columbus Historical Commission, organizations which fought against racism.[164] It was also supportive of trade unionism, and published the works "of the broad array of intellectuals", including George Schuster, Samuel Flagg Bemis, Allan Nevins, and W. E. B. DuBois.[164]

During the Cold War, the order had a history of waging anti-socialist, anti-communist and anti-anarchist crusades.[165] They lobbied for the addition of the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, as a religious response to Soviet atheism.[166][167] The Knights have actively opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage and in terms of funding, they have also been a key contributor to local measures against same-sex marriage.[10] The Knights have donated over US$1 million to the Susan B. Anthony Foundation and other anti-abortion and anti-contraception organizations.[9][168]

Subsidiaries edit

Museum edit

The cross from the façade of St. Peter's Basilica now resides in the Knights' museum.[169]

On March 10, 2001, the order opened a museum in New Haven dedicated to their history.[170][80] The 77,000 square foot building cost US$10 million to renovate.[170] It holds mosaics on loan from the Vatican and gifts from Popes, the membership application from John F. Kennedy, and a number of other items related to the history of the Knights.[170] Near the entrance is the cross held by Jesus Christ on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica[170] before undergoing a Knights-financed renovation.[169][170]

Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors edit

In 2015,[171] the order launched Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors, a money management firm which invests money in accordance with Catholic social teaching.[12][114] As of early 2023, the firm had $25.8 billion in assets under management.[172]

The firm uses the Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to guide their investment decisions.[12][114] The guidelines include protecting human life, promoting human dignity, reducing arms production, pursuing economic justice, protecting the environment, and encouraging corporate responsibility.[d][12]

In addition to the wholly owned subsidiary, it also purchased 20% of Boston Advisors, a boutique investment management firm, managing assets for institutional and high-net-worth investors.[12][173] Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors manages the fixed-income strategies for their funds while Boston Advisors sub-advises on the equity strategies.[12][173] Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors also offers model portfolio, outsourced CIO services, a bank loan strategy, and other alternative investment strategies.[12] In 2019, the Knights purchased the institutional management business of Boston Advisors.[173]

Saint John Paul II National Shrine edit

The order owns and operates the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington D.C.[9] In 2011, the Order purchased the 130,000-square-foot John Paul II Cultural Center.[174][175][9] The mission as a cultural center ended in 2009[176] and the Knights rebranded it as a shrine to Pope John Paul II.[174][175] Soon after the pope was canonized, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops named the building a national shrine.[176]

Each year 64,000 pilgrims visit the shrine, which features video content, interactive displays, and personal effects from John Paul.[176] There is also a first class relic of the pope's blood on display for veneration.[176] It also serves as a base for the Order in Washington, D.C.[177]

Notable Knights edit

President John F. Kennedy was a Fourth Degree member of Bunker Hill Council No. 62.[178]

Some of the most notable American members include John F. Kennedy; Ted Kennedy;[179] Al Smith;[180] Sargent Shriver;[181] Samuel Alito; Conrad Hilton;[182] John Boehner;[183] Ray Flynn;[184] Jeb Bush;[185] film maker John Ford;[186] and Sergeant Major Daniel Daly,[187] a two-time Medal of Honor recipient.[188]

In the world of sports, Vince Lombardi, the famed former coach of the Green Bay Packers;[189] James Connolly, the first Olympic gold medal champion in modern times;[190] Floyd Patterson, former heavyweight boxing champion;[191] and baseball legend Babe Ruth[192] were all knights.

On October 15, 2006, Bishop Rafael Guízar y Valencia (1878–1938) was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome. In 2000, six other Knights, who were killed in the violence following the Mexican Revolution, were declared saints by Pope John Paul II.[193]

Emblem of the order edit

The emblem of the order was designed by Past Supreme Knight James T. Mullen and adopted at the second Supreme Council meeting on May 12, 1883.[194] Shields used by medieval knights served as the inspiration. The emblem consists of a shield mounted on a Formée cross, which is an artistic representation of the cross of Christ. This represents the Catholic identity of the order.[195][non-primary source needed]

Mounted on the shield are three objects: the fasces, an anchor, and a sword. In ancient Rome, the fasces was carried before magistrates as an emblem of authority. The order uses it as "symbolic of authority which must exist in any tightly-bonded and efficiently operating organization."[195][non-primary source needed] The anchor represents Christopher Columbus, admiral under the orders of the kings of Spain and patron of this partnership, here a symbol of the Catholic contribution to America.[196] The short sword, or dagger, was a weapon used by medieval knights. The shield as a whole, with the letters "K of C", represents "Catholic Knighthood in organized merciful action."[195][non-primary source needed]

Auxiliary groups edit

Women's auxiliaries edit

Many councils also have women's auxiliaries. At the turn of the 20th century, two were formed by local councils, each taking the name Daughters of Isabella.[197][198] They expanded and issued charters to other circles but never merged. The newer organization renamed itself the Catholic Daughters of the Americas in 1921, and both have structures independent of the Knights of Columbus.[199][200] Other groups are known as the Columbiettes.[197] In the Philippines, the ladies' auxiliary is known as the Daughters of Mary Immaculate.[201]

A proposal in 1896 to establish councils for women did not pass and was never proposed again.[100]

Columbian Squires edit

The Knights' official junior organization is the Columbian Squires. According to its founder Barnabas McDonald, "The supreme purpose of the Columbian Squires is character building."[202]

It was founded in 1925 in Duluth, Minnesota, by Barnabas McDonald.[203][204][205] The formation of new Squire Circles in the United States and Canada is discouraged, as the Order desires to move youth activities from exclusive clubs into the local parish youth groups.[205]

Similar Christian organizations edit

The Knights of Columbus is a member of the International Alliance of Catholic Knights (IACK), which includes fifteen fraternal orders such as the Knights of Saint Columbanus in Ireland, the Knights of St Columba in Great Britain, the Knights of Peter Claver in the United States, the Knights of the Southern Cross in Australia and New Zealand, the Knights of Marshall in Ghana, the Knights of Da Gama in South Africa, and the Knights of Saint Mulumba in Nigeria.[206]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ The $88 million increase during 1956 was the greatest single increase in the Order's history.[97]
  2. ^ Standard & Poor's downgraded the insurance program's financial strength/credit rating from AAA to AA+ in August 2011 not due to the order's financial strength, but due to its lowering of the long-term sovereign credit rating of the United States to AA+.[130][131] Other US insurance groups also downgraded by S&P from AAA to AA+ were New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, TIAA, and USAA as, like the Knights of Columbus, their assets are highly concentrated in the US and they have significant holdings in US Treasury and agency securities.
  3. ^ The full guidelines are published on the episcopal conference's website.[133]
  4. ^ The full guidelines are published on the episcopal conference's website.[133]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Rundio, Steve (March 31, 2019). "Knights of Columbus conduct Exemplification Ceremony in Tomah". Tomah Journal. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  2. ^ Hubbard & Hubbard 2019, p. 75.
  3. ^ a b "Knights of Columbus: Join us".
  4. ^ "Knights of Columbus elect Patrick E. Kelly next Supreme Knight". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  5. ^ "Minor Matters Passed." Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut). March 15, 1882. p. 1.
  6. ^ a b "Refuting a Libel." Connecticut Western News (Salisbury, Connecticut). February 25, 1915. p. 4.
  7. ^ Hearn 1910.
  8. ^ Arce, Rose; Costello, Carol (October 22, 2012). "Election Day May Reveal Shift on Same-Sex Marriage". CNN. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Roberts, Tom (May 15, 2017). "Knights of Columbus' financial forms show wealth, influence". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  10. ^ a b McElwee, Jason J. (October 19, 2012). "Knights of Columbus Key Contributor Against Same-Sex Marriage". National Catholic Reporter. Kansas City, Missouri. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
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Works cited edit

  • Egan, Maurice Francis; Kennedy, John James Bright (1920). The Knights of Columbus in Peace and War. Vol. 1. ISBN 978-1-142-78398-3.

Further reading edit

  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Knights of Columbus" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 31 (12th ed.). London: Encyclopædia Britannica Company. pp. 682–683.
  • Bauernschub, John P. (1949). Fifty Years of Columbianism in Maryland. Baltimore, Maryland: Maryland State Council, Knights of Columbus.[self-published source?]
  •  ———  (1965). Columbianism in Maryland, 1897–1965. Baltimore, Maryland: Maryland State Council, Knights of Columbus.[self-published source?]
  • Lapomarda, S.J., Vincent A. (1992). The Knights of Columbus in Massachusetts (second ed.). Norwood, Massachusetts: Knights of Columbus Massachusetts State Council.[self-published source?]
  • Sweany, Mark J. (1923). Educational Work of the Knights of Columbus. Bureau of Education Bulletin. Vol. 22. Mark J. Sweaney, Director of the Knights of Columbus Educational Activities. Washington: Government Printing Office. hdl:2346/60378.

Archival collections edit

External links edit