The Knights of Columbus are celebrating the 90th anniversary of their presence in Rome by reflecting on the group's contributions to the city throughout the decades.
One commentator told CNA that although numerous contributions can be attributed to the Knights, the group's humanitarian work, such as keeping the playgrounds open for children in Rome during World War II, is most notable.
As part of the celebration, the Knights of Columbus introduced an exhibit at Rome's historically renowned Capitoline Museums on June 9. The exhibit is titled "Everybody welcome, everything free: the Knights of Columbus and Rome, celebrating 90 years of friendship."
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, thanked the group for their work on Tuesday, saying that throughout their 90-year presence in Rome, the Knights “have worked with particular care in favor of the younger generation by offering opportunities for fun and games, using recreational centers made freely available to parishes, schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, institutions for disabled and priestly formation.”
In his commentary during the event, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson explained that the Knights “were invited to this city 90 years ago by Pope Benedict the fifteenth.”
“First in 1918 to briefly run a facility for US Soldiers in World War I,” he noted, and then “on an ongoing basis to help the children of the city by giving them safe places to play sports.”
“Nothing has been able to interfere with that,” Anderson continued. “When the National government tried to close our playgrounds in 1931, the decision did not last because our friendship with the city was bigger than any political differences.”
Andrew Walther, who is vice president of Media, Research & Development for the Knights echoed Anderson in remarks to CNA on Thursday.
Although many contributions can be credited to the his group, said Walther, “the better story is how much we did on the humanitarian side in Rome.”
From “a service center for troops in World War I, to playgrounds for children since 1920, to helping with Vatican restorations and communications,” he listed, “our work has been at the service of Rome and its people.”
“Most amazing, I think,” Walther added, “is that the playgrounds remained open during WWII - when the US and Italy fought on opposing sides.”
The exhibition at the Capitoline Museums will run from Thursday, June 10 until Sunday, October 31. A series of six rooms depict the work of the Knights in various areas through an assortment of photographs, documents, newspaper articles, artwork and other objects.