The largest fraternal Catholic lay organization in the world was founded March 29, 1882, in New Haven, Connecticut.

The organization was created primarily as a mechanism for immigrant Catholic men to take care of each other’s families in the event they were injured or died. The Catholic men, led by the Rev. Michael J. McGivney, settled on the Columbus namesake to honor the popularly celebrated Catholic discoverer of North America.

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The Knights now boasts more 1.9 million members in 16 countries. The organization, true to its founding purpose, still offers life insurance to its fraternal members, and also focuses on charitable activity.

In recent years, the Knights directly donated $167.5 million to charity, and members volunteered 70 million man-hours for charity, according to the Knights of Columbus website.

The group’s founder, McGivney, is being investigated by the Vatican for possible sainthood.

Here are some of the more famous Americans who have belonged to the Catholic brotherhood:

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