Uganda Martyrs


Feast Day : 3 June

The Uganda Martyrs are recognised in Christian churches as converts to the faith who were executed in the historical kingdom of Buganda, now part of Uganda. In particular, they refused to offer sacrifices to the traditional gods, and resisted (homosexual) sexual advances from King Mwanga II. The Church Missionary Society used the deaths to enlist wider public support for the British acquisition of Uganda into the Empire.

Charles Lwanga and Companions

Saint Charles (Carl) Lwanga and his companions, the so-called "Martyrs of Uganda", were a group of Christians (both Roman Catholics and Anglicans) who were executed on the orders of Mwanga II, the Kabaka (King) of Buganda, between 1885 and 1887. These deaths were part of a three-way religious struggle for political control of the Buganda royal court. In 1877, the Church Missionary Society in London had sent Protestant missionaries to the court, followed two years later by the French Catholic White Fathers. These two competed with each other and the Zanzibar-based Muslim traders for converts and influence. By the mid-1880s, many members of the Buganda court had converted and become proxies for the religious and nationalist conflict being played out in the court. Kabaka Mwanga II, upon his ascent to the throne, attempted to destroy the foreign influences he felt threatened the Buganda state, and was concerned at the increasing role of priests and missionaries. Anglican James Hannington, the Protomartyr, had been dispatched to be the bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, but he was executed with his companions before they could enter Buganda.

Twenty-two of the martyrs were Roman Catholics and were canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 18, 1964. Although the Anglicans were not canonized in the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope did mention them. Their feast day is June 3. They were:

  • Achileo Kiwanuka
  • Adolphus Ludigo-Mukasa
  • Ambrosius Kibuuka
  • Anatoli Kiriggwajjo
  • Andrew Kaggwa
  • Antanansio Bazzekuketta
  • Bruno Sserunkuuma
  • Charles Lwanga
  • Denis Ssebuggwawo Wasswa
  • Gonzaga Gonza
  • Gyavira Musoke
  • James Buuzaabalyaawo
  • John Maria Muzeeyi
  • Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe
  • Kizito
  • Lukka Baanabakintu
  • Matiya Mulumba
  • Mbaga Tuzinde
  • Mugagga Lubowa
  • Mukasa Kiriwawanvu
  • Nowa Mawaggali
  • Ponsiano Ngondwe

The two martyrs of Paimol

The martyrs, Blessed Daudi Okelo and Blessed Jildo Irwa, were two young catechists from Uganda. They belonged to the Acholi tribe, a subdivision of the large Luo group. They lived and were martyred in the years immediately following the foundation of the mission of Kitgum by the Comboni Missionaries in 1915.

Archbishop Janani Luwum

When commemorating the martyrs of Uganda, the Church of England includes Archbishop Janani Luwum, who was murdered in 1977 by Idi Amin's henchmen; they also commemorate Luwum separately on February 17.


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