The Fourth Degree is the patriotic arm of the Knights of Columbus. Nearly 300,000 of the Knights 1.6 million members are Fourth Degree Knights. They promote the virtue of patriotism through their programs and provide honor guards for Church and civic functions.
The Fourth Degree was first established in New York on February 22,1900. Fourteen hundred members were chosen to witness this ceremony.
It was expected that they would recruit from their local councils other Knights worthy of receiving the Orders highest degree. For this purpose, one year after becoming a Knight, a Third Degree member who is an exemplary Catholic and possessed of good, sound citizenship of his country, is eligible to join the Fourth Degree. The Fourth Degree is frequently regarded as an honorary title with its regalia of tuxedos, capes, chapeaux, and swords, and should rather be thought of in terms of service to church and country. Since its establishment in 1900, the primary objective of this degree is to promote the ideals of Catholicism and Patriotism side by side.