Martyrs (d. 1886 and 1887)
+ This group of martyrs includes 22 royal pages of Uganda’s King Mwanga.
+ Led by Charles Lwanga and Joseph Mukasa, the young men were killed because of their Christian Faith and their refusal to obey the immoral and abusive orders of the king. A group of Anglican Christians also suffered the same fate.
+ Although the king believed the murders would bring an end to Christianity, the number of catechumens grew from 800 to 3,000 in the year after the martyrs’ deaths.
+ The Martyrs of Uganda were canonized in 1964, during the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council. Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions are honored as the patron saints of Equatorial Africa. The various churches of the Anglican Communion also honor the Martyrs of Uganda on this day.
For prayer and reflection
“These African martyrs inaugurate a new age… Africa is the new country of Christ. A clear witness of this fact is the direct simplicity and unshakeable fidelity of these young African Christians.”—Pope Saint Paul VI
On this day we also remember Blessed Charles-René Collas du Bignon. A priest of the Society of St. Sulpice (the Suplicians), he was serving as superior of a seminary Bourges, France, when he was arrested during the anti-Christian persecutions of the French Revolution. He was one of hundreds of priests and religious who died aboard the prison ships docked offshore near Rochefort. Blessed Charles-René died on June 3, 1794, and was beatified with the other “Martyrs of the Hulks of Rochefort” in 1995.
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 Saints 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,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.