2014-10-20 17:22:00

Ugandans celebrate 50 years of the Martyrs of Uganda

The Catholic Church in Uganda has celebrated 50 years since the twenty-two Uganda Catholic Martyrs were canonised at St Peter’s Basilica Rome by Pope Paul VI on Mission Sunday, 18 October 1964. 

Coincidentally, the beatification ceremony of Pope Paul VI also took places on Mission Sunday at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family in Rome.

The awe-inspiring function at Uganda's Lubaga Cathedral in Kampala started with a congress that was followed by Holy Mass led by the Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, Archbishop August Michael Blume, assisted by Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala, the Arcbhishop emeritus of Kampala, Kampala’s Archbishop Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, Auxiliary Bishop of Kampala, Christopher Kakooza, Bishop emeritus of Hoima, Edward Albert Baharagate and Uganda Episcopal Conference' Secretary General, Mgr John Baptist Kauta. Also in attendance were several priests and religious as well as the lay faithful.

Other guests were retired Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyooyo, ambassador of Tanzania to Uganda, former DP president, Paul Kawanga Ssemwogere, Entebbe Mayor, Vincent Kayanja and many others.    

The Uganda Martyrs were Christian converts – Anglican and Catholics — who were murdered for their faith by the King of Buganda between 1885 and 1887, after they refused to offer sacrifices to traditional gods. 

Pope Paul VI also became the first Pope in history to visit sub-Saharan Africa. He was in Uganda between July 31 and August 2, 1969. He was the first Pope to make a pilgrimage to the shrine at Namugongo, where he laid a foundation stone for the present minor Basilica at the spot where St. Charles Lwanga was killed.

Beatified by Pope Benedict XV on 6 June  1920, the Uganda Martyrs were declared saints after two nuns, Sisters Aloyse Criblet and Richildis were miraculously cured of the Bubonic plague through their intercession.

Though the martyrs were canonised in October, the main celebrations annually take place on June 3 which is the Uganda Martyrs Day in the liturgical Calendar.  Kampala’s Archbishop, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga said October 18 (the day of canonisation) always passes as a low key celebration. “But this year it’s a special because its’ the eve of the beatification of Pope Paul VI who canonised the Ugandan Martyrs 50 years ago."

(By Juliet Lukwago in Uganda. This article first appeared in Uganda’s New Vision newspaper)

All the contents on this site are copyrighted ©.