By Matt Hadro     8/4/2017

St. Louis, Mo., Aug 3, 2017 / 02:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News) – The classic ceremonial hats and capes of Fourth Degree members of the Knights of Columbus that you may have seen at Mass or at parish events will now be getting a major alteration. 

“This fraternal year, we make another historic change. The Board of Directors has decided that the time is right for a modernization of the Fourth Degree uniform,” Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus Carl Anderson announced on Tuesday at the Knights’ 135th annual international convention in St. Louis, Mo. 

Aaaand the new color guard unis, which are getting some attention on social media… 

— Matthew Hadro (@matthadro) August 3, 2017 

The Knights of Columbus is an international Catholic men’s organization with over 1.9 million members worldwide. The organization promotes four virtues of fraternity, unity, charity, and solidarity among its members. 

The Fourth Degree uniform is worn by those who have reached the highest levels of the Knights of Columbus, are at least 18 years of age and have been a Third Degree member in good standing. 

Each degree is associated with one of the four virtues of the Knights, with patriotism being associated with the Fourth Degree. 

Members of the Fourth Degree serve in honor guards for liturgical processions or in color guards at ceremonial events, hence the distinctive nature of their uniform. 

The uniform of the Fourth Degree has changed throughout the history of the Knights, as previous versions included a top hat and a tuxedo with tails. However, it has remained relatively the same since 1940 – a plumed chapeau which can be worn with plumes of different recognized colors, a tuxedo, a cape, and a ceremonial sword. 

Now, however, the Knights will be leaving behind the classic uniform for a “modernized” version, a blue blazer with the Fourth Degree emblem and dark gray slacks, a blue Fourth Degree tie, and a beret. 

Vice supreme masters processed into Mass on Tuesday at the convention wearing the new uniform. Anderson then officially announced the change while delivering the annual report of the Supreme Knight. 

The board of directors for the Knights decided for the change, Anderson said, to “modernize” the dress uniform that is typically worn at ceremonial or solemn events. 

“On a limited basis, assemblies may choose to continue using the traditional cape and chapeau for color corps at public events and for honor guards in liturgical processions,” Anderson said on Tuesday. 

“However, the preferred dress for the Fourth Degree – including color corps and honor guards – is now the new uniform of jacket and beret.” 


  1. Paul Rudewicz

    I will certainly miss the traditional fourth degree uniform. I always associated it with the honor of the Knights and saw how proudly they all wore their capes and presented their swords in ceremonies.

    • Paul Botelho

      I truly agree. Every year I have been representing myself at our Parish on Good Friday for the veneration of the cross. Everyone at our Parish tell me it’s a beautiful thing. It’s heart breaking that next year I have to stop. As I won’t be able to use the old regalia . I was emotional at the end of Goid Friday service. I’m going rogue and defy the order . I will continue to use my old regalia on Goid Friday service.

    • Shirley Moore

      If this actually occurs, it will be awfully sad. Fourth Degree is EARNED and the “uniform” is known, recognized and respected by many religions. The current Supreme Grand Knight and the Board of Directors’ move is clear pandering and highly disrespectful towards a tradition associated with the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus. Those of you who support this “change” and laud the wearing of a beret, stating a beret is only worn by “the most elite forces” of the military are truly ignorant. My husband is a one hundred per cent disabled combat veteran, a proud member of the 101st Airborne Division, and the recipient of the third-highest military award (Bronze Star) and a Fourth Degree Knight. He did not wear a beret while in the military. Henry F. Key, you must have awfully low self-esteem. Just because you have no class and wouldn’t dress up to save your life, doesn’t give you the right to mock men who reek of class and self-respect.

  2. Henry F. Key

    Thank goodness the K of C is fiinally getting rid of the pompous looking tuxedos and capes and the nerdy , wimpy looking bowties. Tuxedos and bowties may be fine for a high society Hollywood dinner party, But we are Knights, and should look like Knights. Tuxedos and bowties make us look like a bunch of Hollywood playboys. most of the comments on other websites have been very negative towards the new uniforms, especially the berets. In the military the beret is usually worn only by the most elite forces, not by the average G I Joe. Since the 4th Degree is the most Elite faction of the K of C, I feel the Beret is very appropriate. I am a former 4th Deg. member. who is planning to rejoin as soon as this new uniform is fully implemented. I will not rejoin as long as my local Assembly is still wearing Tuxedos and bowties. I refuse to wear a tuxedo, and I wouldn’t be caught dead in a bowtie! I will rejoin because of the new uniform and will wear it PROUDLY, as should all Sir Knights!

    • Ric Lerma

      Your thinking is very narrow minded. Tradition, tradition, tradition. Our church is known for it and we are here to serve not make threats to quit if we don’t get our way. Be a team player and serve God the best you know how.
      Vivat Jesu!

    • SFC Bernard Offley, USA Ret

      Not now the whole US Army wears berets, if I want to look military, I’ll wear my Army uniform or one of the veterans organizations uniforms that I belong too. So you are not a 4th degree member of the Color Corps Henry F Key

    • Dennis

      Obviously you NEVER WORE a military uniform, The army gave the black beret to EVERY GI JOE at the outrage of the elite forces whose distinctive berets were now just another piece of head gear. I served my country and wore my uniform proudly and just got to say the new 4th degree uniform looks more like a radical military wannabe uniform than the prestigious regalia we now wear. SHAME ON SUPREME.

  3. A. Vasquez

    As a 4th Degree Knight and Color Corps Member, I for one will not buy the new uniform. Our signature look is known all over the world. The new Uniform looks like a cross between a Veterans Organization and a French Prep School student. No one can honestly say this uniform looks like its modern or Knights of Columbus. If they had hoped to attract younger members to join, then they just made a huge mistake as I am sure many older members will resign. The $510 plus shipping & Alteration price tag doesn’t help the cause to attract younger members either. I am all for modernizing things in the order such as virtual meetings, forms online, digital council forms, and websites but our traditional look MUST STAY

    • Sir James Heil KCHS

      Knights of Columbus is not a part of the Catholic Church any more than the VFW is part of the military. You only need to be Catholic man to join. But They do lots of fund drives to benefit the church and Priest, for that I am proud to be a member. Anything other than church councils is purely political and insurance company business. The new uniform comes only from one source at $ 510.00. P.S. I am a real Knight, in The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a religious order of the Catholic Church under the protection of the Pope . The cape of the Equestrian Order goes back 900 years to the Knight Templar .

  4. Ron Young

    I was about to join the color guard, but now…FORGET IT!
    The new design is NOT KofC level.

  5. Joe Krochmalny

    I will not be wearing the new 4th degree uniform. It looks like we are being transformed in to a military unit.
    Our signature look which is known all over the world is a plus for our catholic organization This new look makes us look to military or like a boys school and does absolutely nothing for the order. This will not bring younger members into the order and in fact will scare them away. This is so wrong. I am considering dropping pout of the Color Corp and maybe the 4th degree also after over 45 years in the 4th degree. Sumpreme officers must be nuts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Thomas J.

    I have been a Knight since 1985, I served as a US Army Soldier for 30 years, and I will tell you that one of the most despised changes made in my tenure was the black beret. It stole the distinction from the Special Forces, and relegated it to “Every Joe”. In this day and age where everyone gets a “participation trophy”, and just seems KC’s are falling into that line of thought. Not to ramble, but keep in mind the Army Troops never embraced the wear of the beret, it was a very impractical headgear, and very few could wear one without looking like a pizza delivery driver or girl scout. It was widely acclaimed when it was finally reversed. I think it is a very poor choice for this change. I do not want to be negative, but the KC leadership seems to be taking away the historic significance of wearing the chapeaux and capes, I thought we wore the chapeaux to honor the maritime legacy of Christopher Columbus, and the cape for distinction as Sir Knights. I will not resign, but I have a very fixed income, and will likely have to shop for a used uniform or try to find a commercially available substitute. I really do not like the new uniform.

  7. S.Richard Holes

    What will be next, a skirt and top hat? I can see no reason for this change other than some outside pressure to not have the Knights look so different than other organizations. I wore and will wear my 4th degree colors for many viewings for our departed members and will continue until the new uniform is totally in place and then I will not be a 4th degree color guard member. I find this without reason from the appointed higher ups and will not conform to this change. Sir Knight S. Richard Holes.

  8. RD

    What an insult to our countries military. I am a former member of the 10th SFG and not only do we wear a green beret but rangers and other soldiers wear these as a badge of honor. They earned it, KofC just puts one on? Give me a break

  9. fps

    The change was made unilaterally by its supreme council & knight. To throw away all of our traditions & ceremonies for the sake of new 4th degree members is beyond short sighted. There is push back re: new uniform but it seems as though supreme will not listen to it’s members that have served the order faithfully & loyally

    Vivat Jesus

  10. Sir Knight Dr. Anthony V. Potts, CDR, MSC, USN,(ret)

    Couple thoughts on the new uniform. First, it looks like what our Veterans would wear at their VFW gatherings, not Knights. If the old uniform is not relevant any longer, then why call ourselves Knights? The new uniform does not reflect anything Knightly. It is only a business suit with a French beret. The 4th degree is suppose to be something above and beyond the ordinary. This new uniform makes the 4th degree look terribly ordinary and common.
    The old uniform not the reason young are not joining. And to use a sword with a business suit is ridiculous. A suit is not ceremonial.
    Lastly, on financial note, many new 4th degree Knights have committed a lot of money for the old uniform. For the Supreme Knight and Board not to have warned us that this change was coming shows a total lack of consideration for brother Knights. All 4th degree Knights should have had a vote on this radical change. In good faith, they have spent considerable moneys to participate in all 4th degree ceremonies. These men who have paid out for the old uniform in the past 18 months should be reimbursed.
    Shame on the Supreme Knight and Board for such underhanded misuse of authority.

  11. Dennis

    As many have mention before me, I to am ex military and am very disappointed that this change was made. The traditional regalia is beautiful, the new look is one of a para military group. That said I cannot afford to spend $500 for another uniform, The fact that supreme has not given us any options to buy a blue blazer and dark gray trousers on the open market at a competative price shows a lack of concern for the membership. I am active in the color corp and make most all call outs Unless Supreme make some concessions to make this affordable for us I guess I will staying home. There are many outlets that can provide the Blazer and trousers and as for the PATCH a removable pocket patch could serve the same purpose, then the uniform would be affordable for most.

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