June 3rd is the liturgical commemoration of St Charles Lwanga and Companions known as the Ugandan Martyrs. It is also a public holiday in Uganda. While the RCC celebrates the 22 canonised martyrs killed between 1885-87, the Anglicans also commemorate their martyrs, all of whom were martyrs for the faith mainly by being burnt alive although some were dismembered and/or mutilated in defense of the faith
The story of their martyrdom is told here and here but what makes it stand out was the fact that Christianity had only recently arrived in Uganda and the relative youth of the martyrs which can be seen from this photo taken a number of years before (to get a closer look, double click on the photo).
Celebrations begin on May 30th at Butega in the Diocese of Kiyinda-Mityana with the commemoration of the martyrdom of St Matia Mulumba followed on May 31st with the commemoration of the martyrdom of St Noa Mawaggali at Kiyinda (which is the site of the cathedral of the diocese) followed by the national celebration at Nammugono outside Kampala on June 3rd which was the main site of the martyrdom.
|Cathedral of diocese of Kiyinda-Mityana|
|Basilica at Namugongo|
Hundreds of thousands from all over Uganda and even as far a field as Nigeria will gather for the main annual commemerations on June 3rd at Namagongo. The Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo stands at the exact spot where the gallant leader of the Uganda Martyrs; St. Charles Lwanga was burnt alive from toes to head.
Fr Robert Barron was in Uganda a couple of years ago for the feast day and gives a reflection on the feast and a small video taken during the national celebration at Namugongo.