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Thanks to the efforts of Father Michael J. McGivney, assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven and some of his parishioners, the Connecticut state legislature on March 29, 1882, officially chartered the Knights of Columbus as a fraternal benefit society. The Order is still true to its founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity.

The Knights was formed to render financial aid to members and their families. Mutual aid and assistance are offered to sick, disabled and needy members and their families. Social and intellectual fellowship is promoted among members and their families through educational, charitable, religious, social welfare, war relief and public relief works.

The history of the Order shows how the foresight of Father Michael J. McGivney, whose cause for sainthood is being investigated by the Vatican, brought about what has become the world's foremost Catholic fraternal benefit society. The Order has helped families obtain economic security and stability through its life insurance, annuity and long-term care programs, and has contributed time and energy worldwide to service in communities.

The Knights of Columbus has grown from several members in one council to more than 15,100 councils and 1.9 million members throughout the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam, Saipan, Lithuania, Ukraine, and South Korea

Emblem of the Order

 

The emblem of the Order dates from the second Supreme Council meeting on May 12, 1883, when  James T. Mullen, who was then supreme knight, designed it.

The emblem indicates a shield mounted upon the Formée cross (having the arms narrow at the center  and expanding toward the ends). The shield is that associated with a medieval knight. The Formée  cross is the representation of a traditional artistic design of the cross of Christ through which all  graces of redemption were procured for mankind. This then represents the Catholic spirit of the Order.

 Mounted on the shield are three objects: a fasces (a bundle of rods bound together about an ax with  the blade projecting) standing vertically and, crossed behind it, an anchor and a dagger or short  sword. The fasces from Roman days, carried before magistrates as an emblem of authority, is  symbolic of authority which must exist in any tightly-bonded and efficiently operating organization.  The anchor is the mariner's symbol for Columbus, patron of the Order, while the short sword or dagger  was the weapon of the Knight when engaged upon an errand of mercy. Thus, the shield expresses  Catholic Knighthood in organized merciful action, and with the letters, K of C, it proclaims this  specific form of activity.