Martyrs Day 2021 to be celebrated scientifically

Jun 02, 2021

At the Catholic Shrine, Masaka diocese the host of Uganda Martyrs Day celebration has started preparations for the day.

Uganda Martyrs Museum at Anglican Church premises at Nakiyanja-Namugongo. (Photos by Juliet Lukwago)

Juliet Anna Lukwago
Journalist @New Vision


KAMPALA - Uganda Martyrs Day 2021 will be celebrated scientifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At the Catholic Shrine, Masaka diocese the host of Uganda Martyrs Day celebration has started preparations for the day.

Masaka Diocese had been chosen to lead last years’ National Martyrs Day prayers, but due to COVID-19, Catholic Bishops cancelled it and allowed the day to be celebrated at diocesan level. 

Every year on June 3, Christians from different corners of the world converge at the Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo in commemoration of the determination of young men who braved death for their newly found faith on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga.

The Diocese was selected by the Uganda Episcopal Conference to head the celebration, which climaxes on June 3.

The annual event commemorates the heroic 45 Catholic and Anglican martyrs, who were killed by burning and beheading for their faith at the hands of Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda between 1885 and 1887. Of the total number, 22 were professing Catholicism while the rest Protestantism.

The twenty-two Catholic Martyrs were beatified on June 6, 1920 by Pope Benedict XV. They were declared saints on October 18, 1964 by Pope Paul VI.

Three of 22 Uganda Martyrs with ancestry in Masaka Catholic diocese; Charles Lwanga locally known as Kalooli Lwanga, John Mary Kiwanuka Muzeeyi and Bruno Sserunkuuma formerly from Masaka diocese.

Meanwhile, the rector of Catholic Martyrs Shrine, Fr Vincent Lubega called upon Ugandans to stay at home during the Martyr’s Day celebrations in observing the health ministry guidelines in the fight against COVID-19.

He emphasised that Martyrs Day celebrations will be broadcast on various social and electronic media platforms in order to reach the faithful and enable them to follow and worship from their homes.

Visiting Catholic Martyrs Shrine Namugongo, the place was found neat, and nuns from Masaka were seen decorating and few pilgrims moving around and some were seen reciting their rosary.

Martyrs become saints

In 1920, the congregation for the Causes of the Saints in Rome voted in favor of the Martyrs’ beatification and three weeks later, Pope Benedict XV granted it.

The beatification ceremony was held at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on June 6, 1920. The martyrs henceforth became the Blessed Martyrs. The Blessed Martyrs were publicly revered till October 18, 1964, when Pope Paul VI canonized them during the third session of the Vatican II conference.

However, Anglican Church in Uganda, will also celebrate Uganda Martyrs Day 2021 scientifically.

According to administrator of Uganda Martyrs Museum Namugongo, Enock Ruhundo on June 3, the Church of Uganda will host a “scientific” observance of Martyrs’ Day at the Anglican Shrine, Nakiyanja.

The service will run from 9am and it will run for two hours only. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, will be the Chief Guest.

“We are expecting only 200 VIP guests in order to observe the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 guidelines.” he said.

As The New vision toured the Anglican Martyrs site, it was so quiet, apart from seeing birds jumping up and down and also screaming. Ruhundo said that Martyrs Day celebrations will be celebrated as it was in 2020.

This time both pilgrimage sites were always full of pilgrims from various regions who come for their pilgrimage every year and also to share what the martyrs did for them.

Archbishop of Church of Uganda, Dr Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu will be the host preacher and bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira of Namirembe Diocese.


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