Knights of Columbus History

On Oct. 2, 1881, Father Michael J. McGivney, a 29-year-old assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., gathered a group of men at his parish.  He proposed establishing a lay organization with the goal of uniting men of Catholic faith to provide for the families of deceased members.

Thanks to the efforts of Father McGivney and some of his parishioners, the Connecticut state legislature officially chartered the Knights of Columbus as a fraternal benefit society on March 29, 1882.  This date is honored annually as Founders Day.  The Order is still true to its founding principles of charity, unity, and fraternity.

As a symbol that allegiance to their country did not conflict with allegiance to their faith, the organization’s members took as their patron, Christopher Columbus – recognized as a Catholic and celebrated discoverer of the New World.

Catholic men were drawn to the Knights because of its emphasis on serving one’s Church, community, and family with virtue.  Fraternity and patriotism were added to the Knight’s founding principles of charity and unity in 1885 and 1900, respectively.

The Knights of Columbus, now a worldwide financial and charitable organization, has grown from several members in one council in the 1880’s to over 15,340 councils and 1.9 million members today.  Councils are located 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.

Return home.