During the first eighteen years of its existence, the Knights of Columbus had only the first three degrees representing Charity, Unity and Fraternity. At the close of the century it was decided to establish a degree representing patriotism, one which would be more selective in its appeal than the traditional or basic degrees. The new ritual was named the Fourth Degree and was first exemplified in New York on February 22nd, 1900. Fourteen hundred members were chosen to witness this ceremony. It was expected that they would recruit from their councils other Knights worthy of receiving the highest degree. In the years that followed, the patriotic honor was exemplified in various cities and those who took it became a special group, or an assembly within their respective councils.
Formal organization came in 1910 when the Supreme Council provided a government for the degree and gave it a basic law.
The Patriotic Degree was exemplified for the first time in the state of California, in the City of Los Angeles on June 10th, 1905. This was in connection with the convention of the Supreme Council being held at that time in the City of Our Lady Queen of the Angels.
Three years later the Patriotic Degree again was conferred in California. This time in the City of San Francisco on May 10th, 1908. Those who took the degree then, along with those who previously had received it 1905, formed the nucleus of the Fourth Degree membership in the state and constituted the local assemblies of their respective councils. California was made a Fourth Degree District between 1910-1911. In 1912 the main District of California was divided into two Districts… Northern District and Southern District.
Because of the growth of the Fourth Degree in both the Northern and Southern California Districts, the Supreme Board of Directors in April of 1958 created the Central California District. Those are the three Districts that we have today.
Sir Knights of the Fourth Degree, deem it an honor and privilege to carry our TRIAD EMBLEM, which features The Dove, The Cross, and The Globe. Our Honored Order cherishes as its Patron, Christopher Columbus.
Spiritually, the sacred symbols fashioned on our sword and lapel pin, typify the union of the Three Divine Persons in one Godhead The Most Holy Trinity.
Bearers of this emblem are committed to conduct themselves honorably as Christian gentleman in their private and public lives, as well as acting patriotically for the good of their nations. Likewise, the Fourth Degree sword represents the bearer's reverence for the Eucharist and the Pope, Bishops and Hierarchy of the Church, and displays publicly his willingness to protect his Church and priests. Considered under a religious aspect, we have the homor and privilege of wearing on our swords and our lapels the sacred symbol of the Most Blessed Trinity. This should always remind us to live a good Christian life, and that we should never bring dishonor on the emblem we have been privileged to wear. By this, others may see our good works, through which we will glorify our Holy Religion, our Honored Order and our Beloved Country.