The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded by Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut in 1882, it was named in honor of the explorer Christopher Columbus.
The order is dedicated to the principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. The order consists of four different degrees, each exemplifying a different principle of the order. A First Degree exemplification ceremony, by which a man joins the order, explicates the virtue of charity.
After participating in the subsequent degrees, each of which focuses on another virtue, a man rises to that status of that Degree. Upon reaching the Third Degree, a gentleman is a full member. Membership is limited to practicing Catholic men aged 18 or older.
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