The History of the Order


  • On 5th October 1919, Mr PJ O’Callaghan from Cork led 24 men who resigned from the Knights of St Andrew. They formed the Knights of St Columba.
  • The Order is a fraternal association of Catholic Gentlemen based on the principles of Order the Knights of Columbus and is dedicated to the work of the Lay Apostolate and to the virtues of Unity, Charity and Fraternity
  • The founders at the outset decided on a ritualistic Order, as the Church was ritualistic. The Knights are loyal to the Holy Father, the Hierarchies and the Clergy.
  • The Knights of St Columba crossed the border and entered England with the formation of Council No 9 in Liverpool.

The Beginnings

During the First Word War, a Catholic organisation called the Knights of St Andrew was founded in Glasgow. It was modelled in a way that did not please some of its Members. The disagreement came to a head at a meeting on 5th October 1919 when led by Mr PJ O’Callaghan, an Irish man from Cork, 24 men resigned from the Order. They were men of vision who recognised the need for an organisation to be formed; based on strictly Catholic and democratic ideas, with the safeguards to preserve and prevent any departure from “Catholic principles”.

Patrick O’Callaghan asked those present to agree to the formation of a new society.

The Order would be called the Knights of St Columba. The Order as far as possible was to be modelled on the Knights of Columbus, founded in The United States by Fr. Michael McGivney in 1881. The founders at the outset decided on a ritualistic Order, as the Church was ritualistic. They then clearly defined their “aims and objectives” and were given Episcopal Authority by His Grace John McGuire, the Archbishop of Glasgow, and this was passed to Mgr. Ritchie, the Vicar General of Glasgow. The Knights of St Columba was born.

The news of the recently formed organisation spread and in the proceeding weeks over 100 Catholic Gentlemen applied for membership of the Order. The first initiation ceremony took place on the 9th November 1919. On St Patrick’s Day 1920, The Knights held a concert in St Andrews Hall Glasgow, and because of this event, several hundred applications for membership were received. The Knights of St Columba had arrived.

As a practicing Catholic man, you may have an interest in helping those in need, serving your Parish, developing your faith and giving something back to your community. By joining the Knights, you can do all that and more. You will work with like-minded men across your Diocese who can offer their experience and support.


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