The Emblem of the Order dates from the Second Supreme meeting, May 12, 1883, when it was designed by James T. Mullen, who was then the first Supreme Knight. A quick glance at the Emblem indicates a shield mounted upon a cross similar to a Maltese cross, turned sideways. The shield is that associated with a medieval Knight. The cross of Malta is the representation, in a traditionally artistic design, of the Cross of Christ through which all graces of redemption were procured for mankind. This, then, represents the Catholic spirit of the Order.
- Mounted on the shield are three objects; a mace standing vertically, and crossed behind it, an anchor and a dagger or short sword.
- The mace from Roman days of authority, which must exist in any tightly bonded and efficiently operating organization.
- The anchor is the mariner’s symbol for Columbus, patron of the Order
- The short sword or dagger was the weapon of the Knight when engaged upon an errand of mercy.
- The shield expresses Catholic Knighthood in organized merciful action, and with the letters K. of C., it proclaims this specific form of activity.
Thus The red, white, and blue in the background of the shield and the foreground of the Cross of Malta are the colors of our beloved country. Red is the color of stout-hearted courage, of pulsing activity and a full measure of devotion. Blue is the symbol of hope, of calm tranquility under God, and of confidence in the protection of our country, established under God. White is the symbol of nobility of purpose, of purity of aim, and of crucible tried ideals to be carried out.
But there is another symbolism of color in red, white, and blue. This is the ecclesiastical symbolism in which
- Red becomes the reflection of the drops of Christ’s redemptive blood, shed upon Calvary, and of the Martyr’s blood shed in defense of the faith. Red, then, is the symbol of Faith, of belief in Christ, in the Redemption, and in the mission of every man to spread the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ.
- White is the color of the Eucharistic Host, pledge of God’s Eucharistic presence among men, of the infinite love God had for man, and of the overwhelming affection which the God man had for each individual. White then is the symbol of Christ like Charity.
- Blue is the color of Our Lady’s mantle, in which she draped her beloved Son, through whom salvation came to a sinful world. Blue is then the symbol of Hope.
Brothers, be thus edified of the meaning of this, the noble Emblem of our Order. Always wear it with Pride, Dignity, and Honor, and be inspired to live the virtues it proclaims.
Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to men 18 years of age or older who are practical (that is, practicing) Catholics in union with the Holy See. This means that an applicant or member accepts the teaching authority of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, aspires to live in accord with the precepts of the Catholic Church, and is in good standing in the Catholic Church.