Exemplifications of the Fourth Degree
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Fourth Degree By-Laws
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.
The primary purpose of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus is to inculcate a love of country and impress the duties of citizenship. Its motto is Patriotism -- a patriotism enlightened and informed by religion.
Rank and Organization
While the Fourth Degree is the highest and the Honorary Degree of the Order, a member must maintain his council membership in good standing in order to retain his Fourth Degree membership.
The Third Degree, through its elected officers, on the Supreme and the State Council levels is the governing body of the Order, with the Supreme Board of Directors, the highest authority. This Board appoints the Supreme Master and the Vice Supreme Masters of the Fourth Degree. A Vice Supreme Master presides over a Province which consists of a number of Districts. The Supreme Master appoints the Master of the District who supervises the Assemblies in his jurisdiction. The Assemblies, in turn, are composed of members of one or more Councils in the Assembly area.
Applications for membership in the Fourth Degree may be made to any assembly provided the applicant is:
- Over eighteen years of age.
- A citizen of the country in which he resides.
- A Third Degree member in good standing in his council, and who was initiated in the Admission (First) Degree prior to his Exemplification of the Fourth Degree.
- Or, a former member, whose membership was terminated for failure to pay dues, or by a withdrawal card, if he has been readmitted to good standing in his council, and if he was a Third Degree member for a period of more than six months, prior to his loss of good standing in his council.
- A practical Catholic in union with the Holy See.
The Exemplification fee is set annually by the Board of Directors and includes a lapel pin, social baldric and one ticket to the Exemplification Banquet. Members of the Clergy are exempt from the payment of initiation fees and Assembly dues.
The official dress of the Fourth Degree is black tuxedo, white pleated formal shirt, black tie and cumberbund, black shoes and socks, black studs and cuff links, white suspenders and white gloves.
The social baldric identifies you as a Brother Knight and must be worn at all social functions. Officers should wear their jewel of office. The service baldric is used whenever the sword is carried. A "simple" American Flag lapel pin should be worn while in uniform.
All Fourth Degree members are encouraged to obtain the full regalia which includes the white plumed chapeaux, red lined cape, service baldric and sword. You will then be ready whenever you are called upon to participate.
One of the most important functions of the Fourth Degree is providing Guards of Honor at Mass, wakes, funerals, dedications and many other civic or patriotic functions. In full Regalia, with colorful capes and plumed chapeaux, the Knights of Columbus are always recognized in any public appearance. These Sir Knights add dignity and a pride of church and country to any event. By these public demonstrations, their loyalties bring credit to themselves and to the Knights of Columbus.
The colors of the Fourth Degree are:
- Dark Blue - Supreme Master / Former SM
- Powder Blue - Vice Supreme Master / Former VSM
- Gold - Master / Former Master
- White - Faithful Navigator / Former Faithful Navigator
- Green - District Marshal
- Purple - Honor Guard Commander
- Red - Honor Guard