UGANDA: Few Chosen to Attend Martyrs Day as Public Celebrations Remain Cancelled

KAMPALA, MAY 26, 2020 (CISA)-Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations will be marked at diocesan level after the annual public celebrations at Namugongo were cancelled due to the novel coronavirus.

A message released by Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of Kampala on May 24 confirmed that the celebrations involving a few chosen people will be held at Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine, Namugongo on Wednesday, June 3 starting 10:00am and will be broadcast on social and electronic media.

“This year, when the entire world is hit by the COVID 19 Pandemic, and so, prompted to adopt new norms like social distancing, the Uganda Episcopal Conference made the historic and momentous decision to suspend public celebrations of the Solemnity of the Uganda Martyrs’ Day at Namugongo. Nevertheless, as stated by the Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference in his 30th April 2020 Press Release, Uganda Martyrs’ Day celebrations can be organized at Diocesan level,” he said.

The Eucharistic celebrations kicked off on May 24 on Ascension Sunday by a Novena to the Holy Martyrs’ of Uganda. The Novena has been packaged in an e-book and shared to assist Christians in prayer.

“Let us pray this Novena to the Uganda Martyrs’ in our homes and continue to ask for their intercession for the sick and dying, for those caring for them, for those working to minimize the impact of COVID-19, for those who have been displaced due to the floods in various parts of the country, for those who have lost their crops and food due to the locusts in the northeastern part of Uganda and for God’s protection against all these hazards,” he added.

Archbishop Kizito Lwanga recognized the coming and the contribution of the Missionaries of Africa to the region saying “their pastoral work bore fruits in the martyrdom and canonization of their first Christian converts.”

“Our faith and life are rooted in the Blood of the Martyrs. They are our intercessors before God and our models in Christian life. During this difficult time of suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we, therefore, look to them and pray in order to remain firm in the faith, hope and love of God who heals, provides and saves,” he added.

The Martyrs Day is marked as a public holiday in Uganda to remember killing of the martyrs; a group of 22 Catholic and 23 Anglican converts to Christianity in the historical Kingdom of Buganda. Most of the converts were young men who abandoned traditional forms of worship.

They were burnt to death on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, the then king of Buganda between 1885 and 1887, for refusing to denounce Christianity.