The Knights of Columbus, founded by Father McGivney on March 29, 1882, was originally chartered by the State of Connecticut as the “Knights of Columbus of New Haven.” Its purpose was to provide mutual aid and assistance to its members and their families. In 1889, a legislative amendment to the charter authorized the present name “Knights of Columbus.” Originally the Order had only three degrees, exemplifying the principles of Charity, Unity and Fraternity. As the membership grew, the scope and purpose of the organization increased and became more diversified. Complying with the wishes of the membership, the Supreme Board of Directors approved the Fourth Degree in 1900 and on February 22nd of that year (George Washington’s Birthday) the first Exemplification of the Fourth Degree was held in New York City. Membership in the Patriotic Degree of the Order has flourished over the years. As of May 1, 2012, there were 327,415 Fourth Degree Knights.
For more information on the Fourth Degree, please visit the Supreme Fourth Degree site.