History of the Fourth Degree
The Patriotic Degree
On February 22, 1900, the first exemplification of the Fourth Degree was held in New York City. To the three original principles of the Order: charity, unity and fraternity, the ritual added patriotism. The focus of the Fourth Degree is on this principle – an abiding love for and devotion to one’s country. The primary purpose of the Fourth Degree is to foster the spirit of patriotism by promoting responsible citizenship and a love of and loyalty to the Knights’ respective countries through active membership in local Fourth Degree groups called assemblies.
Starting at the Supreme level there is the Supreme Master and the Supreme Board of Directors. The next level of the structure is broken into provinces of which there are twenty. Each province is led by a Vice-Supreme Master. The province is then broken up into districts each of which contains a number of local Assemblies lead by a Navigator. A Master is in charge of a District and usually has a District Marshal to assist him.
Certain members of the Fourth Degree serve as Color Guards and Honor Guards at civic and religious functions, an activity which has brought worldwide recognition to the Knights of Columbus organization. Honor Guards have mastered the “Manual of the Sword”. The Master wears a Gold Cape and Chapeau while his District Marshal wears a green cape and chapeau. The Navigator of an Assembly wears a White Cape and Chapeau while his Color Corps Commander wears a Purple Cape and Chapeau. Finally, all other members of the Color Corps wear a Red Cape and White Chapeau.
As members of the Color Corps, we are the visible part of the Order. When the public sees us in parades, they see the visible arm of “The Knights of Columbus”. When we attend wakes and/or funerals of our deceased brothers all see the visible “Knights of Columbus”. In the many parishes in which we serve, our fellow Catholics see “the Knights of Columbus”.