By Rev. Fr. Paul Gyaviira Muwanga, Nabbingo parish
“In all truth, unless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest. Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:24-25).
This scriptural text suitably applies to the Holy Martyrs of Uganda whom we treasure for having lost their lives in order to regain it in Christ.
Basing on that, today we honour and treasure the Uganda Martyrs for a number of achievements of the Catholic faith as manifested in: Ordination of Local Priests, Bishops, their Beatification and Canonization, the creation of new dioceses, and Apostolic Papal visits, patronages, pilgrimages to Namugongo, Religious Institutes and increase in the number of believers.
As a result of our Martyrs, we are blessed to have many shrines which were built in different places where the Martyrs shed their blood - Munyonyo, Old Kampala and St. Balikuddemde market.
Most of all, in commemoration of the Martyrs, a Basilica was built at Namugongo - a national place of pilgrimage. Charles Lwanga was burnt from where the present Altar of Namugongo Martyrs’ Basilica stands. In the very place where the current Namugongo Basilica is, there used to be a small church.
Thirty-one prisoners, excluding Charles Lwanga, were burnt in the great holocaust at Namugongo on Ascension Thursday, June 3, 1886. Of these, 12 are officially recognized as Catholic martyrs.
They are: Achilles Kiwanuka, Adolphus Mukasa Ludigo, Ambrose Kibuuka, Anatoli Kiriggwajjo, Bruno Sserunkuuma, Gyavira, James Buzaalilyawo, Kizito, Luke Banabakintu, Mbaaga Tuzinde, Muggaga and Mukasa Kiriwawanvu; nine are officially recognised by the Anglicans.
The remaining 10 were pagans, who had been in prison and under sentence of death for offences other than religion. The other Catholic Martyrs were killed in different places.
The writer is the author of the book “Our Martys A Golden Treasure”