March 29th, 1882 – The Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded by Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut, on March 29th, 1882, it was named in honor of the mariner Christopher Columbus.

Father McGivney

Originally serving as a mutual benefit society to low-income immigrant Catholics, it developed into a fraternal benefit society dedicated to providing charitable services, promoting Catholic education and actively defending Roman Catholicism in various nations.

There are 1,883,598 members in nearly 15,000 councils, with 302 councils on college campuses. Membership is limited to “practical” Catholic men aged 18 or older. Membership consists of four different degrees, each exemplifying a different principle of the Order. The Order is a member of the International Alliance of Catholic Knights.

In 1951, the Knights of Columbus began including the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. In New York City, on April 30th, 1951, the Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus adopted a resolution to amend the text of their Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of each of the meetings of the 800 Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus by addition of the words “under God” after the words “one nation”.

Knights_of_ColumbusOver the next two years, the idea spread throughout Knights of Columbus organizations nationwide. On August 21st, 1952, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus at its annual meeting adopted a resolution urging that the change be made universal, and copies of this resolution were sent to the President, the Vice President (as Presiding Officer of the Senate), and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The National Fraternal Congress meeting in Boston on September 24th, 1952, adopted a similar resolution upon the recommendation of its president, Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart. Several State Fraternal Congresses acted likewise almost immediately thereafter. This campaign led to several official attempts to prompt Congress to adopt the Knights of Columbus policy for the entire nation. These attempts were eventually a success.

John_F._KennedyMany famous Catholic men from all over the world have been Knights of Columbus. In the United States, some of the most notable include John F. Kennedy; Ted Kennedy; Al Smith; Sargent Shriver; Samuel Alito; John Boehner; Ray Flynn; Jeb Bush; and Sergeant Major Daniel Daly, a two-time Medal of Honor recipient, once described by the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps as “the most outstanding Marine of all time”.

Many notable clerics are also Knights, including Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston; and Cardinal Jaime Sin, former Archbishop of Manila. In the world of sports, Vince Lombardi, the famed former coach of the Green Bay Packers; wrestler Lou Albano; James Connolly, the first Olympic gold-medal champion in modern times; Floyd Patterson, former heavyweight boxing champion; and baseball legend Babe Ruth were all knights.

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


 

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