Degrees and Principles
The Knights of Columbus is dedicated to the principles of Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism.
A First Degree exemplification ceremony, by which a man joins the Order, explicates the virtue of Charity. He is then said to be a First Degree Knight of Columbus.
The Second Degree ceremony explicates the virtue of Unity and the Third Degree ceremony the virtue of Fraternity.
Upon reaching the Third Degree, a gentleman is considered a full member of the Knights of Columbus. Priests may become Knights but do not participate directly in Degree exemplifications as laymen do, rather they take the degree by observation.
After taking the Third Degree, Knights immediately become eligible to receive their Fourth Degree, the primary purpose of which is to foster the spirit of Patriotism and to encourage active Catholic citizenship. Fourth Degree members, in addition to being members of their individual councils, are also members of Fourth Degree assemblies which typically comprise members of several geographically adjacent councils.
Fewer than 18% of Knights join the Fourth Degree, which is completely optional, and whose members are referred to as “Sir Knight”. Additionally, purchase of the new Fourth Degree Uniform, which is made up of a black beret, dark blue blazer with label pin and Fourth Degree emblem, dark gray slacks, a blue Fourth Degree tie, social baldric, (white gloves, baldric with sword worn at events
[Q: Will the new uniform allow the use of ceremonial swords?
A: Yes. Ceremonial swords will continue to be part of the Fourth Degree. When swords are used, gloves should also be used. (see picture above).
Q: How will rank be distinguished?
A: Colored patches will be worn on the beret behind the Fourth Degree emblem as follows:
- Dark Blue Supreme Master
- Light Blue Vice Supreme Masters
- Gold District Masters
- White Faithful Navigators
- Green District Marshals
- Purple Color Corp Commanders
Those not holding office (who formerly wore red capes) will wear berets with no patch.]