Black Catholic Saint Feast Day: St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Ugandan Martyrs (June 3)
Today the Church celebrates Black Catholic martyr-saints today!
June 3rd is the feast day of St. Charles Lwanga and his Companions, holy martyrs of Uganda, and the Church celebrates it as a memorial today.
From Catholic Culture:
“Today, together with the whole Church, we honor twenty-two Ugandan martyrs. They are the first martyrs of Sub-Saharan Africa and true witnesses of the Christian faith. Charles Lwanga, a catechist and a young leader, was martyred in 1886 with a group of Catholic and Anglican royal pages, some of whom were not yet baptized. King Mwanga, who despised the Christian religion, gave orders that all the Christian pages in his service be laid upon a mat, bound, placed onto a pyre and burnt. This took place at Namugongo, just outside Kampala.”
More Info from Resurrection of Our Lord Catholic Church in New Orleans, LA:
“We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors. The Church honors today the memory of protomartyrs of sub-Saharan Africa, St. Charles Lwanga and his twenty-one companions. They are among the more than one hundred Christians who were martyred between the period 15 th November 1885-27 th January 1887 when King Mwanga of Uganda launched persecutions of Christians in response to their opposition to his homosexual tendencies and corrupt court. St. Charles Lwanga, who was the master of the King’s pages (the young men who were being groomed to serve the king), was martyred with fourteen other pages on June 3, 1886. St. Charles Lwanga is the patron saint of African Catholic Youth Action.
The story of the martyrdom of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions reads pretty much like those of the early Church martyrs. Most of those who were killed by the king were youngsters (the youngest was fourteen years old) who ordinarily would still have been enjoying their early teenage years while under the guidance of their parents. Secondly, the Christian faith had just been introduced to this part of the continent, and one would have assumed that it was still premature to find individuals who were zealous about giving up their lives for this novel faith. Despite St. Charles Lwanga and his companions being mere neophites, they still managed to exemplify the very courage and zeal that the seven brothers . . .”
List of the Martyrs from Wikipedia (with links some of their own bios):
- Achilleus Kiwanuka (d. 3 June 1886)
- Adolphus Ludigo-Mukasa (d. 3 June 1886)
- Ambrosius Kibuuka (d. 3 June 1886)
- Anatoli Kiriggwajjo (d. 3 June 1886)
- Andrew Kaggwa (d. 26 May 1886)
- Antanansio Bazzekuketta (d. 27 May 1886)
- Bruno Sserunkuuma (d. 3 June 1886)
- Charles Lwanga (d. 3 June 1886)
- Denis Ssebuggwawo Wasswa (d. 25 May 1886)
- Gonzaga Gonza (d. 27 May 1886)
- Gyavira Musoke (d. 3 June 1886)
- James Buuzaabalyaawo (d. 3 June 1886)
- John Maria Muzeeyi (d. 27 January 1887)
- Joseph Mukasa (d. 15 November 1885)
- Kizito (d. 3 June 1886)
- Lukka Baanabakintu (d. 3 June 1886)
- Matiya Mulumba (d. 30 May 1886)
- Mbaga Tuzinde (d. 3 June 1886)
- Mugagga Lubowa (d. 3 June 1886)
- Mukasa Kiriwawanvu (d. 3 June 1886)
- Nowa Mawaggali (d. 31 May 1886)
- Ponsiano Ngondwe (d. 26 May 1886)
Collect for the Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and his Companions:
“O God, who have made the blood of Martyrs the seed of Christians, mercifully grant that the field which is your Church, watered by the blood shed by Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions, may be fertile and always yield you an abundant harvest. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.”
And today is the perfect occasion to share a pic of the first class relic I have of St. Charles Lwanga and his Companions. It was given to me by a seminarian brother of my at St. Meinrad last year during the Fall. I remain truly grateful for his gift. It is a most precious part of my “home altar” in my room when I am at the seminary.
Like the Ugandan martyrs let us rely on God’s grace to always preach the truth and to die rather than to sin.
St. Charles Lwanga and Companions of Uganda, pray for us!
Image: An actual picture of the St. Charles and the Ugandan Martyrs. St. Charles (Karoli Lwanga) is number 13 in the middle. Fair Use.