Knights of Columbus change Fourth Degree uniforms

No more swords and capes

Members of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus in Arizona wear the traditional capes and chapeaus associated with them in this 2014 file photo. During the Supreme Convention in St. Louis Aug. 1, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson announced the uniform would be changed. (Ambria Hammel/Catholic Sun)

The Knights of Columbus, long associated with swords, capes and chapeaus, will be going through a significant uniform change.

The traditional regalia worn by the Knights’ Fourth Degree members will be replaced, announced Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson during the Knights of Columbus 135th Supreme Convention being held in St. Louis Aug. 1. 

The new uniform of the Fourth Degree includes a blue blazer with the emblem as a patch and on the buttons, a white shirt, a Fourth Degree tie, dark gray slacks and a beret with the emblem. (Courtesy Photo)

Throughout the years, the regalia of the Fourth Degree, known as the patriotic degree, has gone through changes, Anderson said. When the Fourth Degree was first established, the uniform included white ties, top hats and tails.

In place of a tuxedo with a black bow tie, members will be wearing a blue blazer, an official Knights of Columbus tie and a beret, all with the Fourth Degree emblem on them, along with a white shirt and dark gray slacks. There was no mention as to whether the swords would remain a part of the uniform.

“The Board of Directors has decided that the time is right for a modernization of the Fourth Degree Uniform,” Anderson said. “On a limited basis, Assemblies may choose to continue using the traditional cape and chapeau for Color Corps at public events and Honor Guards in Liturgical Processions. However the preferred dress for the Fourth Degree, including Color Corps and Honor Guards, is the new Uniform of jacket and beret.”

Robert Earl, a member of Father Novatus Assembly 23, which serves Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Daniel the Prophet parishes in Scottsdale, welcomes the new changes.

“I feel it is significant that the Order changes to respond to changing times. The new uniform evokes an image of elite military corpsmen in my mind, and I believe this is the intent behind the change,” Earl said.

“Our former regalia was reminiscent of Navy officers and consistent with the nautical theme in the Patriotic degree, but it perhaps did not have currency in the minds of the general public,” he added, noting that in addition to the tuxedo, the other items collectively could cost approximately $500. “I think the new uniform creates a positive and striking image of ‘soldiers for Christ,’ which is, after all, what we are meant to be.”

Many members are not as thrilled about the pending changes which has generated some controversy among the membership. Joseph Meyer from Msgr. Bernard G. Collins Assembly 2899, which serves St. Bridget and Christ the King parishes in Mesa, said the new uniforms lose a sense of the pageantry associated with the Fourth Degree.

“I have been a Fourth Degree knight since 1978 and we have always had this regalia,” said Meyer, who was a color corps commander in Toledo, Ohio for 13 years before moving to Arizona. “We all looked great in the Fourth Degree outfits. These [new] outfits look bad.”

Paul Lee, a member of the Iowa delegation who spoke to The Catholic Sun from St. Louis, said the reaction on the ground was “mixed.”

“The largest concern is people don’t feel that they have answers for the question of why the need for the change. They want something beyond a more modern look,” said Lee.

Lee said many members he’s interacted with are excited about the changes because it brings the uniform “more in line with other military service organizations because it connects us as patriotic organizations.”

Full story at The Catholic Sun.

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  1. Steve Seitz says:

    I must admit that I’ve always been repulsed by the Knight’s full dress uniform. With that said, the sword is an excellent symbol of Christian knighthood and should be retained, especially in this day and time.

    If it were me, I would have taken the old uniform and have made substantial changes to it rather than getting rid of it altogether. As is, I like neither uniform.

  2. I like the old uniform. Th new does not impress me at all. I am a Fourth Degree member!

    • Linda Maria says:

      Good for you, as a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus! I love the traditional outfits! They are VERY IMPRESSIVE, when you see their wonderful Honor Guard in the church, for special Masses!! The new uniforms do not impress! Especially for an Honor Guard, or similar occasion. From a distance, you could not tell who in the world they might be, in the new uniforms! They would look like maybe like the Boy Scouts, or Holy Name men’s group, or other men’s church group, dressed up– nothing special, though!! For an Honor Guard, you need something SPECIAL and IMPRESSIVE!!

  3. Military Service Organization? I wasn’t aware the Knights were connected to any Military organization. They are a Roman Catholic Organization.
    The beret looks very French. I can’t suggest a head covering, since I never wear one unless it is below zero and then its a ski cap.

  4. Latin Lover says:

    If they would have all of their ceremonies performed by FSPP priests in Latin, these changes would not be necessary.

  5. “An image of elite military corpsmen.” Hmm. Are the grey trousers bloused over combat boots?

    Looks more classic preppy, at least on the mannequin, what with the old school tie and badge. I’m guessing Brooks Brothers or Ralph Lauren. Hardly evening wear.

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