Wednesday, November 20, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary

You have, no doubt, heard of the Knights of Columbus. It's hard to find a spot in the U.S. that doesn't know the group for its fish fries, game nights, spelling bees or political stances.

Are you equally as familiar with the Knights of Peter Claver, though?

The group is named in honor of St. Peter Claver, a Spanish Jesuit who traveled to what is now Colombia in the early 1600s. There, he worked in the service of enslaved Africans, advocating on their behalf with their owners, treating their injuries and praying with and for them.

The Knights of Peter Claver were founded by four Josephite priests in Mobile, Ala., in 1909, as a fraternal Catholic men's organization. Today it is the largest historically black Catholic lay organization in the U.S. Its headquarters is in New Orleans.

During the past 100+ years, the Knights have provided financial support to organizations including the NAACP, Urban League, National Black Clergy, National Black Sisters Conferences, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Black Catholic Congress and Xavier University of New Orleans.

The current Supreme Knight of the organization is F. DeKarlos Blackmon, who is thought to be the youngest ever leader of the organization (he also has an active presence on Facebook). The current Supreme Lady of the Ladies Auxiliary is Vertelle A. Kenion.

Learn more about the Knights of Peter Claver at the organization's website.

(Images via Knights of Peter Claver Tampa and

Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

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