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History; Relics of St Charles Lwanga Return to Munyonyo 138 Years After his death


History; Relics of St Charles Lwanga Return to Munyonyo 138 Years After his death

On 1st November 1886, five months after St. Charles Lwanga and his companions were burnt to death at Namugongo and others martyred at different locations, Fr. Lourdel Mapeera received their relics at the current Uganda Martyrs Shrine, Munyonyo. Fr. Mapeera wrote that he received the relics with great joy. Today, this joy was replicated by the Christians of Uganda Martyrs Parish, Munyonyo, when they welcomed the same relics of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions from Nalukolongo, 138 years later.

Charles Lwanga was condemned to death during a general court assembly at Munyonyo, on 25th May 1886. He was later burnt to death at Namugongo on 3rd June 1886, after trekking from Munyonyo.

This development comes ahead of the celebrations of 60 years since the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs. Fr. Richard Nyombi, the former Parish Priest of Mapeera-Nabulagala Parish, noted that the Martyrs are our ancestors in faith, and we must ask them to intercede for our families and country. “These are not dry bones; these are our ancestors in faith.”

Relics of Uganda Martyrs, Charles Lwanga and his companions at Munyonyo this evening

The rector of Munyonyo Shrine, Fr. Male Ulman, received the relics from Nalukolongo this afternoon and was welcomed by Christians who assembled about 1km from the Shrine. With songs of joy, they danced as they marched through Munyonyo with the relics until they reached the Shrine.

At the Shrine, Fr. Nyombi gave a talk about the Uganda Martyrs and their importance to the lives of Ugandans, calling on Christians to not only pray through their intercession but also to name their children after the Martyrs. He later led mass.

“On 15th November this year, the five dioceses in the Kampala Ecclesiastical Province shall converge here at Munyonyo to celebrate 60 years of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs. The Archbishop decided that this year, the relics of the Uganda Martyrs will be visiting every parish in the Archdiocese of Kampala. He is inviting us in a special way this year to make an effort to know more about the Uganda Martyrs, so as to be able to imitate their lives, and also to pray through their intercession that the things in our families and country which seem to be upside down may be put right through the intercession of the Uganda Martyrs,” said Fr. Nyombi.

Fr Richard Nyombi later led mass at Munyonyo Minor Basilica

He added that the Archbishop is requesting parents to name their children after the Martyrs this year. “Let our children be a reminder of the lives of the Martyrs.” He also wants the Martyrs Guild to be reinstated in all parishes that the relics have visited, to help people follow in the footsteps of the Martyrs.

History of the Relics of Uganda Martyrs

In 1886, while at Munyonyo, Mapeera learned of the existence of the relics. He asked the Christians to go and collect the relics and bring them to him. That was five months after they were killed. The Martyrs were killed on 3rd June, and he received their relics on 1st November 1886. Mapeera wrote about his experience, describing the joy he felt when he received these relics. It was the joy of seeing that those he had taught religion had not betrayed him and the Jesus they had embraced.

Mapeera kept the relics, which were buried in Nalukolongo for seven years, from 1886 to 1893. However, two years after being buried, a war broke out between Christians and Muslims, and the Christians had to flee. The missionaries were expelled from Buganda and left the relics behind. When they returned over a year later, the area had become overgrown with bush, and they could not locate where they had buried the relics. It took them five years to find them.

Fr. Nyombi prayed during mass this evening that the joy exhibited by Munyonyo Christians may be shared with others so that it can be felt by everyone Christians come into contact with.

“We must always remember that while Uganda is the Pearl of Africa, it is mostly known as the land of the Martyrs. That is why Pope Francis warned, during his visit to Uganda, that if we forget the Uganda Martyrs, the Pearl of Africa shall end up in a museum.”

Fr. Nyombi expressed concern, noting that during the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome 60 years ago, there were people from different countries in the world who were told that there were some Ugandans in the audience. Wherever they found them, the other people touched these Ugandans, believing that they had touched the Martyrs. However, today, Fr. Nyombi said that things have changed so much that people in St. Peter’s Basilica may not even want to stand or sit next to a Ugandan due to our bad reputation.

The Shrine Rector Fr. Male thanked Fr. Nyombi for accepting the invitation to come to Munyonyo for the reception of the relics and for giving an educational talk, especially about the 60 years of canonization of the Martyrs. He invited the Christians to the nine-day Novena, which is starting tomorrow at 5 pm at the Shrine.

The Novena is one of the many activities that take place each year preceding Uganda Martyrs Day on 3rd June. Other activities include the youth pilgrimage on 31st May, the Walk of Faith on 1st June, and a vigil on 2nd June. The relics of St. Charles Lwanga will remain at Munyonyo until 30th May 2024.

The current Uganda Martyrs Shrine is where the journey of martyrdom of the Holy Uganda Martyrs started. At Munyonyo, Charles Lwanga baptized some of the Martyrs before beginning the journey that for others ended at Munyonyo and other different spots, with the final destination being Namugongo on 3rd June.

Sarah K. Biryomumaisho is a seasoned multimedia Award Winning journalist with 11 years of experience in broadcast and writing. She is recognized for her expertise in the field and holds a Diploma in Business Administration from Makerere Business Institute, which has equipped her with a strong foundation in business principles. Sarah's commitment to professional development is evident through her continuous pursuit of knowledge and skills. She has obtained a Certificate in Media Management from Women in News, an esteemed organization dedicated to empowering women in the media industry. In 2020, she successfully completed a Course in Wikimedia, demonstrating her proficiency as one of the few Wikipedia Editors in the country. To further enhance her reporting capabilities, Sarah has also acquired a certificate in Gender Justice Reporting from The International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF). This specialized training has equipped her with a deeper understanding of gender-related issues and their portrayal in the media. Throughout her career, Sarah has contributed her talent to various media houses, including six radio stations, where she has showcased her versatility and adaptability. Her most recent engagements include Galaxy FM 100.2 and Radio 4. Additionally, she has served as a writer for Andariya Magazine, further demonstrating her ability to excel in different mediums. Sarah's expertise extends beyond journalism. She has worked as a Digital Communications consultant for the revitalized Uganda Airlines, leveraging her skills to effectively communicate the airline's message in the digital sphere. Her passion for digital media and technology makes her a valuable asset in the evolving landscape of communication. In her entrepreneurial pursuits, Sarah is the proud owner of TheUgPost, a renowned media organization with a strong presence in Uganda and a global reach. Through this platform, she continues to make a significant impact by providing reliable and engaging content to a wide audience. Sarah won the Top Environmental Journalist Award 2023 from Uganda Biodiversity Fund. Twitter;

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