Knights of Columbus Honor Guard
The Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Honor Guard is the most prominent feature of the Order. These are the Knights in parades. These are the Knights saluting the Bishop when he visits your Parish. These are the Knights carrying the flag to center-field. These are the Knights who will stand by your widow at your funeral.
While there is no denying the good works of Charity, Unity, and Fraternity done by our Brother Knights in the Councils, the image most people in your Parish have when they think of "the Knights of Columbus" is the Honor Guard. Participation in the Fourth Degree Honor Guard is not mandatory. However, for those Sir Knights who do it, the experience is life-changing. Only members of the Fourth Degree can be members of the Honor Guard. It is perhaps the greatest gift and the greatest responsibility of the Patriotic Degree.
"Several years ago, the Assembly #3101 Honor Guard was invited to attend the funeral of a fellow Sir Knight. The deceased had moved to the area from out-of-state and hadn't live here long. None of us knew him, but we were humbled that his wife would request us to serve at his funeral Mass.
Because he was not from the area, the funeral was sparsely attended -- only the front two pews. When it came time for Communion, only his wife, our Honor Guard, and perhaps 1-2 other relatives got in line to receive it. That moment that showed me the importance of the Honor Guard. As long as there is a Knight of Columbus, no Catholic man, nor his widow need to face death alone. "
Rich Oloffson, Past Faithful Navigator
Join the Honor Guard
Membership in the Honor Guard is one of the best ways to be a visible contributor to the Knights of Columbus. In order to join the Honor Guard, Sir Knights must first acquire the official Fourth Degree Uniform and a Knights of Columbus sword. These uniforms became the standard for the order in 2019. While the tuxedo and social baldric are still permitted for Fourth Degree occasions, the new uniform is a requirement for all members of the Honor Guard. The sword remains the same, and vintage swords from earlier eras are also permissible.
To purchase a new uniform, Sir Knights may buy a full package or each item individually from:
To purchase an official Knights of Columbus sword, Sir Knights are encouraged to buy from the English Company. For the best overall value, the "Sword Package" is HIGHLY recommended.
A Complete Fourth Degree Uniform Will Include the Following Elements:
Navy Fourth Degree Uniform Blazer
Gray Fourth Degree Uniform Trousers
Black Uniform Beret
Fourth Degree Beret Badge
White Dress Shirt (with no buttons at the collar)
Navy Fourth Degree Uniform Tie
White Uniform Gloves
Fourth Degree Lapel Pin
Service Baldric with Frog (i.e. K of C Sash with Sword Clip)
Knights of Columbus Sword (Black Handle)
Knights of Columbus Scabbard
Navy Uniform Trenchcoat
Colored "Flash" for Beret -- denoting past officer positions
Miniature Officer Jewels -- denoting past officer positions
Knights of Columbus Sword (White Handle for PFN, FDM)
More Information on the Etiquette of the Uniform Can Be Found in
The Color Corps Drill Manual of the Fourth Degree
A black beret, worn down to the Sir Knight's right is the appropriate head gear for the Fourth Degree uniform. The beret has replaced the chapeau. The beret should be worn as part of the Color Corps or Honor Guard uniform, but is not necessary for participation in formal Fourth Degree events. The beret can be purchased separately, or part of the total uniform package. To purchase just the beret, follow this link.
Upon the beret, the Sir Knight should wear the metal emblazoned with the emblem of the Fourth Degree. The emblem should be forward facing and above the Sir Knight's left eye. The beret pin can also be used to designate the past service of the Sir Knight. Various colors of (optional) "flashes" can be inserted behind the pin to indicate past offices held. The beret pin may be purchased separately, but comes with the total uniform package. To order a replacement pin, follow this link.
The contributions of every Brother Knight at every Degree level are appreciated. Still, there are some men who continue to answer the call to higher and higher levels of leadership within the Order. To recognize these current and past officers of the Fourth Degree, symbolic "flashes" can be added behind the metal pin of the beret. The should be work with the square edges at the top and the rounded section at the bottom. The purple and green "flashes" of the Assembly Color Corp Commander and the District Marshal are temporary for the duration of the appointment. Faithful Navigators, District Masters, Vice Supreme Masters, and the Supreme Master may continue to wear the color of their highest ranking flash for life -- assuming that no further superseding rank is attained. If you have been appointed, elected, or are a former officer deserving of one of these honors, first, you have our thanks, second, you may purchase a "flash" befitting your level of service at this link.
The navy uniform blazer is the most notable component of the uniform. The blazer includes an embroidered emblem of the Fourth Degree below the pocket. The formality of the blazer makes it a versatile component of the uniform. While it can be worn with the beret, service baldric, and sword in the Honor Guard, it is also a practical way to participate in formal K of C events even when not paired with the service attire. While the blazer is the centerpiece of the uniform package, it can be ordered individually by following this link.
Beneath the jacket, Sir Knights should wear a white, button-up-the-front dress shirt. The Order makes no specific recommendation on the brand or retailer for this item. There are, however, four stipulations to the the dress shirt that must be followed to include it in the uniform (1) It must be white. (2) It must be long-sleeved. (3) It must NOT have a button-down collar. (4) It should NOT have French cuffs. Assuming that the Sir Knight owns a dress shirt conforming to these standards, it is permissible for use in the uniform. No dress shirt is included in the uniform package, and it is up to the Sir Knight to provide one from his existing wardrobe or purchase one meeting these specifications at his discretion.
While there are many attractive Knights of Columbus ties available on the internet, there is only one official uniform tie. The tie presents golden emblems of the Fourth Degree on a navy blue field. Do not fall for imitations. The official tie comes with the uniform package, or can be purchased separately at this link.
The appropriate lapel pin for the Fourth Degree Uniform is the emblem of the Fourth Degree. In the past, various pins were permissible for the Honor Guard. The most popular was a combination of the American Flag and the emblem of the Fourth Degree. Today, the more subtle, emblem of the Fourth Degree pin received at the Sir Knight's exemplification is the standard. As the Sir Knight should already own this, it is not included with the purchase of the uniform package. However, if a replacement is needed, one can be purchased at the following link.
One of the easiest components of the uniform to overlook, but one of the most conspicuous if they are missing, are the white gloves. Unfortunately, these do not come with the uniform package. If a Sir Knight has them from his previous regalia, the same white gloves are approved for use with the new uniform. However, if a Sir Knight does not have a pair of white gloves for his Honor Guard uniform, they can be purchased here.
The uniform trousers are a dark gray and made of fine wool. While it may be tempting to substitute one's own gray trousers instead, it will be very obvious if an Honor Guard has 10 different varieties of trouser colors. The official uniform pants are a core component of the uniform package, but can be purchased individually as well.
To carry a sword with the uniform and participate in the Honor Guard or Color Corps of the Fourth Degree, ownership of a Service Baldric is essential. The Social Baldric received upon completion of one's Fourth Degree exemplification is not sufficient. The Social Baldric is meant to be worn under a jacket, whereas, the Service Baldric is meant to be worn over the jacket from right shoulder to left hip. The colors of the Service Baldric are those of the country of the Assembly. For Assembly #3101, that is the Red, White, and Blue of the United States of America. Most importantly, the Service Baldric contains a metal cross at the bottom including the initials of the watch-word of the order TFMM. This metal insignia, called the "frog" is the clip that attaches the scabbard of the sword to the Service Baldric. Not owning this critical piece of the uniform makes participation in Color Corps and Honor Guards impossible. Sir Knights who have one from the old regalia may still use their original Service Baldric as it has not changed. Unfortunately, a Service Baldric is not part of the official uniform package. If a Sir Knight needs a Service Baldric, one can be obtained here.
Connected to the Service Baldric is the Scabbard. The Scabbard holds the sword and is an intricately detailed work of craftsmanship. Hidden throughout the Scabbard are the emblem of the Order and the emblem of the Fourth Degree. A small key-hole-shaped clip connects to the "frog" of the Service Baldric and allows the sword and Scabbard to hang at the Sir Knight's hip. Sir Knights owning a sword and scabbard from the old regalia should continue using it. Sir Knights wishing to join the Honor Guard or Color Corps are HIGHLY encouraged to buy the Sword & Scabbard package which includes gloves and a personalized carrying case for the Sword & Scabbard. The Sword & Scabbard package can be purchased here.
Sir Knight's Sword
Faithful Navigator's Sword
District Master's Sword
(White Handle, Gold Sword)
The Sword. Perhaps the most intriguing and prestigious part of the Fourth Degree uniform is the privilege to carry the Sword. For many Sir Knights, the Sword is a family heirloom passed-down over generations. For others, it is a new tradition started with them. Whether a gift, or a personal acquisition, the Sword symbolizes one's Knighthood. It is important to understand that there are subtle differences between the Swords one may see within an Honor Guard and to follow the etiquette that they represent when purchasing a Sword for one's self. For most Sir Knights, the silver Sword with the black handle will be the Sword they carry for their lifetime. Fewer men will have the honor to carry the silver Sword with the white handle -- denoting their service as a Faithful Navigator. Fewer still will earn the right to carry the gold Sword with the white handle -- the mark of the District Master. Be wary. Online there are many sites that offer replicas or even enticing "gold swords." To ensure that you are buying the appropriate Sword for your service, order one from an approved Knights of Columbus supplier.
Eagle Head Sword
1800's - Early 1900's
Late 1900's - Today
While the Side-Facing Pommel Sword is the contemporary version, it is still permissible for Sir Knights to carry vintage Swords from earlier eras. Since Knights of Columbus Swords are often treated as family heirlooms and passed from father to son, it is possible that you will encounter men in your Assembly with these older versions. Further, as some Sir Knights prefer to purchase a used Sword and keep its legacy alive, one may find these versions on EBay and other reseller sites. If you shop for a vintage Knights of Columbus Sword, be wary -- many Swords presented at Knights of Columbus Swords are actually mislabeled Masonic Swords. Refer to this guide for the visual aspects of the official Sword. If you want to learn more about the Fourth Degree Sword and its history, visit this site.