Waiting for Pope Francis at the Munyonyo Martyrs' Shrine


Pope Francis Visits Shrines of Ugandan Catholic, Anglican Martyrs

Holy Father Visited Where Martyrs Were Sentenced, Tortured, Killed; Prayed in Silence

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Pope Francis has made a special visit to recall those Christians murdered for their faith between 1885 and 1887, when King Mwuala II had 23 Anglicans and 22 Catholics executed in the historical kingdom of Buganda, which is now part of Uganda. 

The Holy Father is making an Apostolic Visit to Africa, Nov. 25-30. He arrived in Uganda’s capital of Kampala yesterday, after having been in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. Tomorrow, he leaves for Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui, where he will visit a refugee camp and open the Holy Door of the Jubilee Year.

At 8:30 a.m. this morning, during his first full day in Uganda, the Pontiff visited the Anglican and Catholic Shrines of Namugongo. The Namugongo Anglican Shrine stands on the site of the martyrdom of 25 Ugandan Catholics and Anglicans, whose relics are preserved in a chapel adjacent to the sacred building, not far from the Catholic Shrine.

Welcomed by the Anglican archbishop, the Pope unveiled a plaque commemorating the sacrifice of the martyrs and went to where they were sentenced, tortured and killed. After a few moments of silent prayer, the Holy Father said goodbye.

Immediately after, the Holy Father moved by car to the Catholic Shrine of the Martyrs of Uganda in Namugongo. Welcomed by the rector, the Pope entered the basilica and prayed before the altar containing the relics of St. Charles Lwanga (1865-1886), the best known of the Ugandan martyrs, who was killed during the anti-Christian persecution in the country.

Revered as a saint by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, Charles Lwanga was a Ugandan convert to the Catholic Church. Born in the Kingdom of Buganda, the southern part of current-day Uganda, Charles served as a page and later major-domo in the court of King Mwanga II.  In an attempt to resist foreign colonization, the king had insisted that Christian converts abandon their new faith, and, between the years of 1885 and 1887, executed many Anglicans and Catholics. Many of these martyrs were officials in the royal court or those close to him, including now St. Charles Lwanga.

After visiting the shrines, the Holy Father celebrated Mass to honor the martyrs, at which some 2 million faithful were expected to be present.

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