Mutual aid and solidarity
Our story begins on the East Coast of the United States in 1882, shortly after the civil war.
Upon learning that a father had died leaving his widow and numerous children in need, Father Michael McGivney, a young parish priest at St. Mary’s church in New Haven, Connecticut, convened a group of twenty men in the church crypt.
Catholics were in the minority at the time, and many lived in poverty. Young Father McGivney urged these men to acknowledge the urgent need to band together in solidarity and unity to help each other and better support their families, to stay faithful to the Church's teachings, and to help evangelize their continent.
Convinced by their pastor’s words, they decided to found a charitable organization of Catholic men, united around their parishes.
They chose Christopher Columbus as their patron, a respected and recognized figure among the Catholic laity and the discoverer of America.
They also decided to call themselves “knights,” in tribute to the devotion of their Christian ancestors in Europe.
In founding the “Knights of Columbus,” Father McGivney’s most ardent wish was to serve and support families, the primary vehicle for teaching social values and transmitting the faith.
A mutual fund, which later evolved into a fraternal benefit society, was established to protect families in the event of an accident.
Groups of men called “councils” soon began to form in parishes and in no time spread beyond the borders of the US and Canada.
Foreshadowing the advent of creative minorities and the vision of the Second Vatican Council, the call of a young parish priest thus led to the creation of a vast movement of Catholic laymen mobilized in service of the Church.