Saints and Holy People

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Saint Charles Lwanga (1886) and Companions (Martyrs of Uganda)

Saint Charles Lwanga (1886) and Companions (Martyrs of Uganda)

Feast day: June 3

Charles Lwanga and other Christians in Uganda were martyred between November 15, 1885, and January 27, 1887. When the White Fathers (a Catholic missionary community) arrived in Uganda, they were received peacefully by King Mutesa. When the king’s son, Mwanga, became king, the atmosphere changed.

King Mwanga was corrupt and immoral, and ritually engaged in pedophiliac practices with the younger pages. When Joseph Mukasa, the king’s chief page, who had tried to protect the younger pages from the king, was beheaded, Charles Lwanga became the chief page. But Charles knew that he and the other pages’ lives were in danger.

They went to the White Fathers and asked for Baptism. The king learned of this and separated the Christians from the other pages and asked the Christians if they were willing to keep their faith. “Until death!” they answered. On June 3, 1886, Charles Lwanga was burned at the stake. His last word was “Katonda!” (“My God!”). His companions were then burned together the same day, praying and singing hymns until they died. Saint Charles Lwanga is the patron saint of African Catholic Youth Action, converts to the Church, and victims of torture.

(Image © Mirt Alexander /