Memorial of St Charles Lwanga and Companions

Saint Charles Lwanga (in the center) and his 21 followers
Saint Charles Lwanga (in the center) and his 21 followers

Today is the memorial of St Charles Lwanga and his companions, 22 Ugandans martyrs, the first martyrs of Sub-Saharan Africa. Charles Lwanga was a catechist and he was martyred in 1886 with a group of Catholic and Anglican pages, some of whom were not yet baptized. King Mwanga II despised the Christian religion and gave orders that all the Christian pages in his service be laid upon a mat, bound, placed onto a pyre and burnt. Charles Lwanga was the chief of the royal pages. He had converted to Christiniaty from paganism and was baptized in 1885. The executioner said that Charles would be burned slowly to death, Charles replied by saying that he was very glad to be dying for the True Faith. He made no cry of pain but just twisted and moaned, “Kotanda! (O my God!).” He was burned to death by Mwanga’s order on June 3, 1886. Pope Paul VI canonized Charles Lwanga and his companions on June 22, 1964. The Basilica of the Uganda Martyrs was built at the site of the executions, and serves as their shrine.

Sources and further reading:

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