The Uganda Martyrs: the seed of our faith

How the Martyrs were killed

The first to be martyred on 15th November 1885 was the King’s major domo and Christian leader, Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe. He was killed because he had pleaded with the king not to kill Bishop James Hannington, an Anglican Missionary, who had made an attempt to enter Buganda from east, then considered to be the backdoor of the kingdom. Joseph was beheaded and burnt at Nakivubo swamp, at the Kampala City center.

The main persecution that led to the Namugongo Holocaust broke out on 25th May 1886 at Munyonyo, then a royal enclosure near Lake Victoria when King Mwanga condemned Christians to death With the Spearing and condemning to death Denis Ssebuggwawo. He (Denis) was killed on the following and the same day as Andrew Kaggwa.

On the 26th of May 1886, as a ceremonial opening of the death-march, Pontian Ngondwe was speared by Mukaajanga, the chief executioner, his corpse hacked and pieces scattered to all directions at Ttabataba, now known as Ttaka Jjunge, about a mile from Munyonyo on the way to Mengo.

In the morning of 27th May 1886 at Mengo, Athanasius Bazzekuketta who was thirsty for martyrdom, volunteered to be executed at a spot on the foot of Mengo Hill where Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe, his leader had been martyred earlier.

On the same day, while at Old Kampala on his way from Mengo to Namugongo, Mathias Kalemba Mulumba refused to walk further in demand for execution. His hands were cut off first, fresh removed from his back and roasted then his legs cut off, blood vessels and veins tired, and traditional herbs applied to wounds to stop him from over bleeding. He died three days later from thirst.

Tired on their necks and feet to another by the cords and slave-yokes or by the stocks, the Uganda martyrs had to walk for over ten miles to reach Namugongo. But about a mile from their destination, Gonzaga Gonza who could hardly keep up with the pace collapsed at Lubaawo hill, he was speared at about midday on 27th May 1886.

In Namugongo, the Uganda martyrs were confined for about a week before execution, in that time, the executioners went about with preparatory activities like collection of enough fire wood and cutting of reeds to be used in the event, this took until 2nd of June.

The 3rd of June 1886, on the feast of the ascension, Charles Lwanga became the first victim of holocaust, Ssenkoole, the Guardian of the sacred fused had singled him out, following the traditional procedure of a ritual execution, which prohibited his (Ssenkoole) presence at the actual scene of a large execution but rather expected to select one victim and burn him apart from the others.

Ssenkoole took Charles Lwanga to a spot about fifty yards from the road, he (Charles) was allowed to arrange his own death-bed of firewood. Then wrapped in reeds laid on the pyre and was burnt slowly from the foot to the head at about midday, 3rd June 1886.

Achilles Kiwanuka, Adolphus Mukasa Ludigo, Ambrose Kibuuka, Anatoli Kiriggwajjo, Bruno Sserunkuuma, Gyavira, James Buzaalilyawo, Kizito, Luke Banabakintu, Mbaaga Tuzinde, Muggaga and Mukasa Kiriwawanvu are the twelve catholic that were burnt in the great namugongo holocaust together with thirteen Anglicans and six other prisoner that were on death sentence for other offences other than religion.

Martyrs killed outside Namugongo include; Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe and Atthanasius Bazzekuketta, at the city of Kampala (St. Balikuddembe Market), Denis Ssebuggwaawo and Andrew Kaggwa, killed at Munyonyo, Pontian Ngondwe killed at Kyamula (Ttakajjunge), Matthias Kalemba Mulumba killed at Old Kampala, Noe Mawaggali killed at Kiyinda-Mityana, Gonzaga Gonza killed at Kamuli-Lubaawo and lastly John Mary Muzeeyi killed at Mmengo-Kisenyi.

Thirty one years after the Namugongo holocaust, two young Christians from the Acholi people of northern Uganda, Daudi Okello, a chatecist and Blessed Jildo Irwa an assistant were martyred by a party of raiders. They were dragged from their hut and pushed to the ground, speared several times on 18th of October 1918 at midnight. Their bodies were not buried until later by the local community.

[Copied from the Uganda Martyrs Shrine website]

May Senatus meeting held on 15th May 2022

The President welcomed members to the meeting. Special welcome was accorded to the visitors from South Sudan, Br. William Lado, President of Regina Mundi Curia, Catholic Archdiocese of Juba, South Sudan and Br. Suubi Richard, South Sudan Correspondent.

Legionaries were thanked for taking part in the pilgrimage to Kenya to commemorate the 78th death anniversary of Venerable Edel Quinn. Different councils had organised mass to pray for her beatification.

The centenary Celebrations continue in different parts of the Country. We received reports of the celebrations that took place at Gulu Archdiocese and Tororo Archdiocese. In the two, we legionaries were warmly received and the Archbishops accorded a warm reception. We had over 1000 and 2000 Legionaries present respectively at the two celebrations.

Next Centenary celebrations will be in Kasana Luweero and Moroto Dioceses on 21st May and 22nd May 2022 respectively.

On 20th May 2022 the Senatus of Uganda will mark 60 years since it was inaugurated. Mass will take place at St. Augustine Chapel, Makerere University starting at 5pm.

In the meeting, we received 3 new Curia that had been formed from Soroti Diocese-Mukongoro, Kobwin and Koloin Curiae. The officers of the three Curiae were ratified at the meeting.

About the extension work in Ssese Islands, the first round of work had been successful and the Parish Priest suggested that teams of Legionaries be sent every 3 months and it would require approximately UGX. 5 million which Senatus did not have. Members suggested that different Councils contribute and well-wishers so that the work be accomplished.

Extension work is on going in Soroti Diocese, Arua Diocese and Gulu Archdiocese. Legionaries were encouraged to support the different works spiritually and financially.

The visitors from South Sudan extended greetings from His Grace Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, the Archbishop of Juba and thanked us for the great work were doing in South Sudan to support the Legion of Mary.

Legionaries were reminded of the 24-hour rosary initiative that they had registered for.

Allocutio at the May 2022 Senatus Meeting

Allocutio delivered by Rev. Fr. Benedict Kato, Spiritual Director from Kimaanya Comitium

Incolae Mariae and Exploratio Dominicalis (Handbook Ch. 40 Section 9 and 10)

Basing on the Spiritual Reading, Rev. Fr. Kato Benedict informed Legionaries that the way to success is to move from one place to another whether spiritually, politically or economically. If you don’t move, you remain in a stagnant life.

A Legionary who doesn’t move from one place to another for Legionary work is stagnant. Jesus himself moved from one place to another to preach the Gospel and so did the Apostles.

In the heart of the Legionary, their ought to be a spirit to move from one place to another in the spirit of Incolae Mariae and Exploratio Dominicalis. In Incolae Mariae, the Legionary gives more substantial time beyond a week or two away from home at a service and in Exploratio Dominicalis, a Preaseidium dedicates a Sunday to search for souls possibly in a problem area a little distance away but not very far.

As Councils have assigned Legionaries, the Praesidia too should take on that similar work and assign the Legionaries for the same. Legionaries need to move and aid in the work of the Priest.