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Martyrs of Uganda memorial day marked without usual crowd and pilgrims

June 3, 2020, marked 125 years since the execution of 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic converts to Christianity in the historical kingdom of Buganda, now part of Uganda, who were executed between 31 January 1885 and 27 January 1887. They were killed on orders of Mwanga II, the Kabaka of Buganda.

The young martyrs of Christ were beautified in 1920 and canonised in 1964 by Pope Paul VI who declared “These African martyrs inaugurate a new age. Africa is rising free and redeemed, bathed in their blood”

Since their canonisation, the martyrs are commemorated in a solemn celebration accompanied with a procession with the relics of the Saints held at the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine built at the site of the execution of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions with the heavy presence of Catholic faithful and pilgrims from around the world.

It was reported that last year at the 124th year commemoration, thousands of Catholic pilgrims from around the world gathered in Uganda to celebrate Martyrs Day. Some pilgrims come by foot from as far as Congo and Nairobi.

But the situation was different on June 3, 2020, due to the Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world forcing a ban on religious activities and social gatherings in countries across the world.

Empty Pavillon                                                                                                                      Picture: Solomon Vumbi


Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the usual procession with the relics of the Saints was done without pilgrims who normally throng the shrine to pray during the Martyrs Day.

Priests carrying the relics of the Martyrs in a procession before Mass                Picture: Solomon Vumbi


The Archbishop of Kampala, Most Rev. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga led mass on the day with only 20 congregants in the Basilica Shrine which was broadcasted live on radio and on television.


With no pilgrimage, the pavilion and terraces were completely empty. A handful of Christians followed the proceedings from outside the closed gates.


List of  Uganda martyrs

Notably among them are At St. Charles Lwanga, St. Kizito, Andrew Kaggwa

  • Achilleus Kiwanuka
  • Adolphus Ludigo-Mukasa
  • Ambrosius Kibuuka
  • Anatoli Kiriggwajjo
  • Andrew Kaggwa
  • Antanansio Bazzekuketta
  • Bruno Sserunkuuma
  • Charles Lwanga
  • Denis Ssebuggwawo Wasswa
  • Gonzaga Gonza
  • Gyavira Musoke
  • James Buuzaabalyaawo
  • John Maria Muzeeyi
  • Joseph Mukasa
  • Kizito
  • Lukka Baanabakintu
  • Matiya Mulumba
  • Mbaga Tuzinde
  • Mugagga Lubowa
  • Mukasa Kiriwawanvu
  • Nowa Mawaggali
  • Ponsiano Ngondwe


Source: Vincent Amedzake // Radio Angelus

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