The triad emblem of the Fourth Degree features the dove, the cross and the globe. The dove, classic symbol of the Holy Spirit and Peace, is shown hovering over the orb of the Earth (globe). Both are mounted on a variation of the Crusader's Cross, which was found on the tunics and capes of the Crusading Knights who battled to regain the Holy Land from the pagans.
Spiritually, the sacred symbols on the emblem typify the union of the Three Divine Person in one Godhead, the most Blessed Trinity.
- The Globe - God the Father, Creator of the Universe.
- The Cross - God the Son, Redeemer of Mankind
- The Dove - God the Holy Spirit, Sancitifier of Humanity.
The colors of the symbols are:
- A blue globe with the land of the Western Hemisphere in white.
- A red cross with gold borders and gold knobs at the end of the points forming the ends of the arms of the cross, also known as Isabella Cross.
- A white dove.
Red, white and blue are the colors of the flag of our country in which the Knights originated. They are used to stress patriotism, the basic principle of the Fourth Degree.
History of the Fourth Degree. The idea of adding new degrees to the Order's original three, (Charity, Unity, Fraternity) first came to light in 1886. Supreme Knight James T Mullen appointed a committee to look into forming two new "commander" degrees. The same year the Connecticut Catholic . a local newspaper, carried and advertisement calling members of local Knights of Columbus councils to meet to form a "Uniformed Legion." The idea for this new unit arose froma growinf nation wide sense of Nationalism, or what we would call today Patriotism. The unknown author in Connecticut was not alone in wanting a visible organization.
Little happened at this time because there was not enough wide spread interest in creating additional degrees. The Order's leaders balked at the idea of a Uniformed Legion for the simple reason that the cost for the "Uniform" was well over $100.00. They feared the "Legion" would cause an economical class split between wealthy and poorer members of the Order.
Following the Spanish American War, it was decided that there should be one new Degree added based on the principlwe of Patriotism. In 1899, Edward L. Hearn was elected Supreme Knight and he immediately appointed a committee to estabish and format the new Degree to be given the following year.
In order to qualify for this Degree each Candidate had to be a Third Degree member of the Knights of Columbus in good standing for three years, and show evidence of distinctive service to the Order, church and community. Finally the candidate had to have a letter from the priest stipulating that he had received communion within the past two weeks.
The first Exemplification of the new Degree was scheduled to be held in the Astor Hotel in New York City on February 22, 1900. However, there were so many candidates, teh Exemplification had to be moved to a larger venue. Therefore the site was moved to the lenox Lyceum. At this first Exemplification of the Fourth Degree 1,100 members of the Knights of Columbus, being in good standing "took their forth." The second Exemplification, held in Boston on May 8, 1900 saw another 750 Third Degree Knights join the ranks of Sir Knight.
In the early years of the Fourth Degree, members met as part of their councils, mostly after meetings. In 1910, during a reorganization of the Order's leadership, the first Assemblies wre created. Additionally the position of Supreme Master was established to lead the Fourth Degree internationally. Vice Supreme Masters lead Provinces and Masters head Districts. This system has spread and flourished as Sir Knights not only serve their local Church through their service to local councils but also their joint efforts in these Asseemblies.
The Honor Guard, first called for in 1886 was officially formed in 1902, for ceremonial purposes. Since that time, the uniforms of the Color Corps have varied, however all have shared the similar theme of mariners. Most noticeable in today's current uniform is the chapeau worn with ostrich feathers.
In the year 2000, the Fourth Degree celebrated its 100th Anniversary with approximately 252,000 member Sir Knights. .
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