Each ‘degree’ of the Knights of Columbus is associated with a particular virtue, the fourth being “Patriotism”. Consequently, the 4th Degree is often known as ‘The Patriotic Degree’.
It was established in New York on 22 February, 1900. The requirements for joining the 4th are that a brother Knight must have been a third degree member in good standing for at least one year, be an exemplary Catholic, and be of sound citizenship of his country.
The Fourth Degree is frequently regarded as an honorary title with it’s regalia of tuxedos, capes, chapeaux and swords but should rather be thought of in terms of service to church and country, and the goals of the Fourth Degree may be summarised as the promotion of the ideals of Catholicism and Patriotism side by side.
In more detail, these goals may be stated as:
- To promote and strengthen the patriotic spirit of the civic community.
- To educate its members, and others, both in the teachings of Holy Mother Church, and the history of our nation.
- To promote by example the highest type of citizenship so necessary for the preservation and perpetuation of Republican form of government, and its democratic institutions.
- To oppose dissemination and spread of doctrine dangerous to our form of government, and to the Divine law of faith and morality.
- To support by word and deed, the duly constituted authorities of local, state and national government, and to recognize excellence in public life.
Therefore, it is not unusual to find Fourth Degree Knights participating visibly in church events, such as Eucharistic processions, and others, and in the community, standing up for the unborn and the elderly at Pro-Life events, and commemorating the sacrifices of previous generations on Remembrance Day.