.- Pope Francis met with leadership of the Knights of Columbus on Wednesday, for the second time in a week, in the Cappella Paolina of the Apostolic Palace.
The pope met with the Knights’ officers and directors with their families Feb. 12, following a Mass said by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Supreme Chaplain to the Knights.
Francis prayed an Our Father and a Hail Mary with the Knights, promising to pray for them and asking their prayers in turn.
Archbishop Lori gave the pope an Italian edition of a biography of Fr. Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights.
Francis had already received the leadership in an audience in the Clementine Hall Feb. 10.
“It was a great honor for our delegation to meet with the Pope not just once, but twice,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said.
“We are touched by the fact that Pope Francis took so much time with us, and we remain inspired by his words and grateful for his prayers. I ask all brother Knights and their families to take seriously the Holy Father’s request and commit to praying for him each day.”
The administrative council of the Knights of Columbus is on a pilgrimage to Rome to mark 100 years of charitable activity in the Eternal City.
At their Feb. 10 meeting, Pope Francis had praised the organization’s charitable work in Rome and in defense of life.
“Today the Knights of Columbus continue their work of evangelical charity and fraternity in a variety of fields,” the pope said. “I think in particular of your faithful witness to the sacredness and dignity of human life, evident at both the local and national levels.”
He also noted the Knights’ dedication to aiding, “both materially and spiritually, those Christian communities in the Middle East that are suffering the effects of violence, war and poverty.”
“I thank all the members of your Order for seeing in our persecuted and displaced brothers and sisters of that region neighbors for whom you are a sign of God’s infinite love,” he said.
Pope Francis noted the centenary of the group’s humanitarian aid in Rome, which started after World War I at the invitation of Benedict XV.
“The Knights responded generously, establishing sports centers for youth that quickly became places for education, catechesis and the distribution of food and other essentials so needed at that time,” he said.
Francis also praised the group for its “unswerving devotion to the Successor of Peter,” including through the Vicarius Christi fund, the annual proceeds of which are given to the pope for his personal charities.
The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal order, was founded in New Haven, Conn., in 1882 by Venerable Michael J. McGivney, a parish priest. It has 1.8 million members worldwide who perform volunteer service and advance the order’s key principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.