Uganda martyrs were a group of about 45 Anglicans and Roman Catholics who were killed under the regime of Kabaka Mwanga during the catholic missions in Baganda which were established by the White Fathers in 1879 where Christians were tolerated by Kabaka Mutesa 1 but were being killed by his successor as a start with the Anglican Bishop James Hannington in October 1885. The Kabaka also beheaded Joseph Mukasa who approached the kabaka about the issue of Christianity in 1885.
Kabaka Mwanga learning of the locals receiving instructions from the page Denis Ssebuggwawo ordered the arrest of the youths but before Charles Lwanga had to secretly baptize the young ones and the following day is when they were taken to the village of Namugongo where Pontian Ngondwe(solider), Athanasius Bazzekuketta and Gonzaga Gonza (royal servants) were killed en-route to Namugongo as the rest continued with the journey. Father Lourdel who was recording, was also imprisoned for a week with exception of Mbaga-Tuzinde who was beaten to death by the father the rest were burnt alive on 3rd June 1886 and these included; Mugagga, Mukasa Kiriwawavu, Adolphus Mukasa Ludigo, Gyavira, Achilles Kiwanuka, Ambrose Kibuka, Anatole Kiriggwajjo and Kizito who was the youngest among them all.
Kabaka officials were among the ones he ordered to kill and they include; Bruno Serunkuma, James Buzabaliawo, and Luke Banabakintu Ugandans still do remember Martyrs by naming schools, buildings, and the 22 Martyrs were consecrated by Pope Benedict xv in 1920 and canonized by Pope Paul vi on October 18th, 1964 and every 3rd June celebrations are carried out in Namugongo where pilgrims walk from different districts to Namugongo to remember the Martyrs.
UGANDA MARTYRS TRAIL
It is a faith tourism product where tourists go through the places where the first Christian missionary passed, preached the word of God, and where some of the Uganda Martyrs were killed before their bodies were burnt at Namugongo.
On 3rd June every year, many Christians all over the world come to Uganda to join the celebrations to commemorate Martyr’s day. it is celebrated to remember the 45 young men both Catholics and Anglicans who were killed under the order of Kabaka Mwanga for refusing to denounce the Christianity faith which he believed that whites were intoxicating his subjects who will later rebel against him. they were killed in the year of 1885 -1886 with a climax at Namugongo on 3rd June 1886. the trail was expanded to places.
Mapeera site in Ssese
Is a spot where Father Simeon Lourdel (Mapeera) and brother Amans landed to spend the night on their way to meet Kabaka Muteesa 1 to seek permission to set up a camp in Buganda to preach and spread Christianity.
Kigungo Church in Entebbe
Is where Father Simeon and Brother Amans stopped on the 17th after spending a night at Bugoma, Bugala Island to Munyonyo to meet the Kabaka.
Mapeera site in Kisubi
On their way to meet Kabaka Mutesa 1 at Munyonyo palace, the missionaries stayed at Kisubi along Entebbe Road a place where the catholic church built a seminary and schools.
Martyrs ‘shrine Namugong
This is the place where the missionaries met with the Kabaka who had written a letter to Queen Victoria of the UK in 1876 inviting Christians to come, teach and preach the word of God in the Buganda Kingdom. it is also the place where the Anglicans and Catholics began their journey before reaching Namugongo this happened after the death of Kabaka Mwanga’s father Kabaka Muteesa1 in 1884.
It was where Kabaka Mwanga took the decision to start killing the Christians to give up their lives for Christ’s sake on 26th, May 1886 including St. Denis Ssebugwawo and St. Andrew Kaggwa and also a place where St. Kizito, St. Mbaga, St. Gyavira, and St. Muggaga were baptized by Saint Charles Lwanga who was the leader of the Christian community and a monument was inaugurated by Pope Francis on 27th, November 2015 when he visited Uganda.
This is where the Uganda Martyrs were burnt between 1885 and 1886. The construction of the shrine began in 1967 completed and was finally opened by His Eminence Sergio cardinal pignedoli on 3rd, June 1975.
The Uganda shrine is a church dedicated to the Martyrs who shed their blood because of Christ’s sake the shrine which has 22 copper pillars over 100 ft. long that supports the shrine which is in form of an African hot and the wooden doors show the history of the Martyrs and has the capacity of 1000 seats arranged in a circular form.
In 1920 Pope Benedict xv blessed the Martyrs, Pope Paul vi canonized them in 1964 at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome and also the Pope honored the pilgrimage in 1969 as he visited the African continent.
To remember Charles Lwanga, a lake was dug behind the church where pilgrims draw water from this lake, and testimonies are given for healing various diseases since he is the one who spearheaded the digging of Kabaka’s lake in Ndeeba.
The grass thatch pavilion in the lake with a clear view that can be seen from all angles in Namugongo is where the main celebrant sits during big occasions like the Uganda Martyrs day celebration, the pavilion can accommodate more than 300 priests and Bishops.
Anglican Church Martyrs
A museum was constructed there to keep the information and story of the Martyrs, the coming of the missionaries where all the information can inspire you spiritually Uganda is one of the African Continent to be visited by three Popes and including Pope Paul vi (1969), Pope John Paul11(1993) and Pope Francis (2015). Visiting the Martyrs’ trail is done throughout the year but the most favorable is between May and July when you can participate in the annual celebrations which take place on 3rd June every year.