On the feast of the Uganda Martyrs, the Archbishop of Kampala urged all Catholics during the coronavirus crisis to pray for the intercession of St Charles Lwanga and his companions.
The feast remembers the 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic victims of the Namugongo Holocaust who were martyred for their faith between 1885-1887 on the orders of the King of Buganda, Mwanga II. St Charles Lwanga, who was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1964, was executed after leading the king’s royal pages in declaring their fidelity to Christ when Mwanga II ordered them to renounce their faith.
Earlier in the week, President Yoweri Museveni told Ugandans that the popular annual feast day pilgrimage to the Namugongo shrine “will not take place this year because of the deadly coronavirus disease.” The President instead urged Ugandans to celebrate the feast by “praying from our homes”.
Speaking during a live-streamed Mass at the Basilica of the Uganda Martyrs in Namugongo, Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of Kampala made reference to two nuns who, during a bubonic plague epidemic in the 20th century, had been healed through the intercession of the martyrs.
The reference was to a miracle in 1941, in which two nuns had contracted the bubonic plague after burying another member of their order who had died from the disease. The two nuns returned to their Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa convent in Kampala and prayed for the intercession of the Uganda Martyrs. “Everyone knew they would die,” the Archbishop said, but “miraculously they were cured.” The Vatican declared the healing a miracle after specialists concluded that such a complete and immediate recovery was not possible by natural means.