Iyambaze Abatagatifu b’i Buganda (Martyrs Bugandais)

Uganda martyrs
(between 1885-1887)
The Uganda Martyrs were Christian convents who where murdered for their faith in Kingdom of Buganda, now part of Uganda. Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions, Martyrs of Uganda, were a group of Christians (both Roman Catholics and Anglicans) who were murdered by Mwanga II, the Kabaka (King) of Buganda, between 1885 and 1887. These deaths were part of a three-way religious struggle for political control of the Buganda royal court. In 1877, the Church Missionary Society in London had sent Protestant missionaries to the court, followed two years later by the Catholic missionaries  (White Fathers). These two competed with each other and the Zanzibar-based Muslim traders for converts and influence. By the mid-1880s, many members of the Buganda court had converted and become proxies for the religious and nationalist conflict being played out in the court. Kabaka Mwanga II, upon his ascension to the throne, attempted to destroy the foreign influences he felt threatened the Buganda state, but was instead deposed by armed converts in 1888.
The Anglicans were not canonized in the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope did mention them. Twenty-two of the martyrs were Roman Catholics and were canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 18, 1964. Their feast day is June 3. At this date, it’s feast in Rwandan Catholic church too. For those who think that the faith and zeal of the early Christians died out as the Church grew more safe and powerful through the centuries, the martyrs of Uganda are a reminder that persecution of Christians continues in modern times, even to the present day. To pray Ugandan’s martyrs for our region, is a manner of asking God the gift of strength, peace, justice, forgiveness and love in our faith. 



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