City of Rome breaks ground on plaza named for the Knights of Columbus

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12/6/2011

Memorial will recognize organization’s longstanding charitable work in Rome

In recognition of the Knights of Columbus’ near century of service and dedication to the people of Rome, the City of Rome began construction Dec. 6 on a square in the Catholic fraternal organization’s honor.

The groundbreaking ceremony on the “Largo Cavalieri di Colombo” took place at 1 p.m. at the corner of Viale delle Terme di Caracalla and Via Antonina. Mayor Giovanni Alemanno of Rome officiated, and other dignitaries, including Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, attended.

Msgr. Roger Roensch, Director of the Bishops’ Office for United States Visitors to the Vatican, gave a blessing to mark the groundbreaking ceremony.

Later that day, at 6 p.m. a concert was held in the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli adjacent to the Campidoglio, featuring the Gospel Choir of St. Thomas More Church in Washington, D.C. in honor of the ground breaking.

The Knights have been active in a variety of charitable roles in Rome for more than 90 years. Following the Knights’ service to American troops in Rome in World War I, Pope Benedict XV in 1920 invited the Knights to stay in the city, and to develop playgrounds for the city’s youth, who had few open spaces for exercise in the post-war years. The Knights did so, and continue to manage and maintain athletic fields, which are free to the young people of Rome.

The work at the playgrounds continued unabated even during World War II, when the United States and Italy were at war. During the war, food delivery to the people of Rome from the Vatican was often coordinated from a K of C athletic field. After the war, a Knights’ athletic field became a distribution point for food to the children of Rome, who suffered food shortages following the war.

The K of C has also supported the Eternal City in other ways, promoting its cultural and artistic heritage through restorations of Vatican and civic artworks and monuments, and the sponsoring of many renovation projects at St. Peter’s Basilica – including the restoration of the façade in the 1980s. The Knights has also sponsored a number of Vatican communications initiatives, including several satellite broadcasts each year, and most recently the co-sponsoring with Sony of the Vatican’s acquisition of a mobile high definition television studio.

“The Knights of Columbus is honored to have been able to serve the people of Rome, its local Church, and the Vatican for nearly a century,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “The friendship between the Knights of Columbus and the City of Rome has overcome the difficulties of distance, language, custom and even war, precisely because it has been based on the virtue so often extolled by Pope Benedict XVI – charity. We hope that this square will be a reminder of the power of the transformative power of Christian charity.”