Since Pope Francis’ presentation to the world as the newly elected Holy Father on March 13, 2013, the Knights of Columbus has supported him. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who was in St. Peter’s Square that day, said the reveal was “a joyful moment for the Knights of Columbus and the Church” and called upon Knights around the world to “work even harder for those who need the most help in our society.”
But who was this pontiff from the Americas? The world was eager to know. And it was the Knights who provided the answer.
In late 2013, the Knights of Columbus released the documentary Francis: The Pope From the New World, which examined the life story and thinking of Pope Francis, chronicling the remarkable path of Jorge Mario Bergoglio and his journey to becoming the first pope from the Americas.
(The documentary is available on YouTube)
The documentary was only the beginning of the Knights of Columbus’ work with Pope Francis. Since then, the Knights has provided financial assistance – as it has with previous pontiffs – to the pope’s personal charities through the Vicarious Christi Fund. Knights around the world have supported several papal visits, the most extensive being Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in September 2015.
A week before the pope’s arrival in the U.S., the Knights released a poll showing that the Holy Father enjoyed a high level of popularity among Americans. During the six-day apostolic journey, Knights provided financial, volunteer and logistical support as well as printing 350,000 programs for the closing papal Mass in Philadelphia. One Knight even performed original musical pieces during papal liturgies and Supreme Knight Anderson also provided commentary on Pope Francis’ visit on Fox News.
The Knights of Columbus also hosted Pope Francis at the K of C-sponsored Mercy Centre during World Youth Day 2016 in Kraków, Poland, where the Holy Father thanked the volunteers for “helping and serving the thousands of young pilgrims.”
Pope Francis has been, and continues to be, vocally and spiritually supportive of the Knights of Columbus’ initiatives. In his letter to the 2013 K of C Supreme Convention, he praised the Order for its charitable works, while encouraging the organization to defend the sanctity of life, marriage and the rights of believers.
Pope Francis has been especially grateful for the Knights of Columbus’ material and spiritual aid to persecuted Christian communities in the Middle East, saying that the Order is a “sign of God’s infinite love.”
Not only does the Holy Father pray for Knights and their families but he also blessed the Order’s initiatives, including the Silver Rose program — a program that promotes unified prayer for the unborn across multiple continents via silver roses with Knights as their stewards.
Recently, Pope Francis was presented with two silver roses, one which he kept and the other he blessed. The blessed rose is now on a 6,000-mile cross-continental journey from Alaska to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, stopping in British Columbia and 7 U.S. states along the way.
The Knights’ collaboration with Pope Francis is part of the one hundred years of friendship with the papacy, all of which are detailed in the new book The Knights of Columbus: An Illustrated History.
Pope Francis said it best about the Knights’ continued support for not only him but past and future papacies: “Since its foundation, the Knights of Columbus has demonstrated its unswerving devotion to the Successor of Peter.”
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