The Knights of Columbus is a Roman Catholic organization for men that provides fraternal and financial support for members and their families, engages in charitable activities and works to promote Christian values within society. Charity, unity and fraternity are three values that encapsulate the spirit and mission of the organization.
Father Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus with a group of laymen from St. Mary's Catholic Church in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882. The State of Connecticut composed a charter recognizing the organization on March 29 of that same year. The organization came about during a time when fraternal societies, many of them hostile to Catholicism, were becoming popular in the United States. Father McGivney founded his group in part to provide a support network for Catholic men in an anti-Catholic environment. To show that their love for their faith did not conflict with their love of country, the group adopted Christopher Columbus as their namesake and patron.
The Knights of Columbus grew rapidly in the following years, and they claim 14,000 councils and 1.8 million members throughout the world, as of 2015. The Knights maintain a strong relationship with the Roman Catholic hierarchy. As of 2015, Archbishop William E. Lori acts as the Knight's supreme chaplain. As of the same year, the Vatican is considering a cause for the beatification and canonization of McGivney.