KIGUNGU, FEBRUARY 17, 2023 (CISA)- The Catholic Church in Uganda has celebrated 144 years of Catholic faith since the First French Missionaries: Fr Simeon Lourdel (Mapeera) and Br Delmas Amans (Amansi) arrived in the country on February 17, 1879.
The Holy Mass held at Kigungu Peninsular on the shores of Lake Victoria was presided by Most Rev Augustine Kasujja, the Apostolic Nuncio Emeritus to Belgium and the first African to be appointed an apostolic nuncio.
In 1879, the two members of the Society of Missionaries of Africa (White fathers) crossed Lake Victoria and disembarked at Kigungu, Entebbe, having left the town of Marseille, France, in 1878 to Zanzibar, and travelling on foot to the lake and eventually Uganda. Their arrival at the peninsular is commemorated as the advent of Catholicism in the nation.
According to Atlas Obscura, an American-based online magazine and travel company that outlines the historical accounts of Fr Lourdel and Brother Amans, the two missionaries continued north, passing through Kisubi and Rubaga, by which time their arrival had been brought to the attention of Mutesa I, the Kabaka of the Kingdom of Buganda. Kabaka Mutesa I ordered that the two French missionaries be taken to Kitebi, where they spent 15 days, both suffering from fever.
“It was a crucial time for the missionaries. Food was scarce, and without approval from the king, their fates were very much in balance. But on February 23, as the two men battled their fevers, Mutesa I sanctioned their arrival and sent canoes across the lake to bring the rest of the caravan to Uganda. Not long after, the missionaries visited Mutesa I at his capital of Banda-Kampala. He gave them Lubya Hill on which to build churches, schools, and hospitals.”
Today, a brick monument marks the spot on which the two missionaries first landed in Uganda and over the years it has become a popular pilgrimage site for the Catholic faithful.
Each year on February 17, hundreds of pilgrims travel to Kigungu to commemorate the arrival of Christianity in Uganda and to pay their respects to the two missionaries.