Pope to visit the martyrs of Namugongo site today

One was killed by slow fire; another was dismembered and left to die. One was speared to death, his body devoured by village savage dogs, others burnt alive in a furnace. Some beheaded, others hacked to pieces. Such were the horrible ways 32 men and boys died in Uganda on June 3, 1886 just because they were Christians. One of them was only 14.

The Martyrs were either Anglicans or Catholics. Twenty-two of them who were Catholic were beatified by Pope Benedict XV on 6th June 1920 and canonized by Pope Paul VI on 18 October 1964. They are regarded as saints in the Catholic Church. A basilica has been built at the spot where the majority of them were burned to death.

About 3.2 km further east from the Basilica of the Uganda Martyrs, stands a Church, at the place where the Anglican martyrs met their death.

Although the death of 45 martyrs was documented (including those killed after the initial 32), it is believed that many more believers died at the command of Kabaka Mwanga II between 1885 and 1887 in present day Uganda.

Today, Pope Francis will visit both the Anglican shrine and the Catholic shrine of the martyrs. His Holiness will hold a Holy Mass for the Martyrs of Uganda in the area of the Catholic Shrine where several programs hold these days, including pilgrimages every month of the year.

After the Mass at Namugongo, Pope Francis will meet with the young people at Kololo Air Strip in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city before visiting the House of Charity of Nalukolongo. He will also meet with the Bishops of Uganda at the Archbishop’s House, and the Priests, Men and Women Religious and Seminarians at St Mary’s Cathedral. He leaves Entebbe, Uganda for Bangui in the Central African Republic on Sunday.