Monday, June 2, 2008

St. Charles Lwanga

The martyrs of Uganda

Feast: June 3

St. Charles Lwanga was born in Buddu County in Uganda about 1860 or 1861. He first heard about Jesus Christ from some members of Chief Mawulugungu's household, and he became a catechumen. He was subsequently baptized May 15, 1885.

He had been an assistant to Joseph Mkasa, who was in charge of the pages in the household of the Kabaka, Mtesa, who was friendly toward the Christian missionaries. His successor, Mwanga, however, was very anti-Christian and immoral. When he was rebuked by Mkasa for the murder of some of the missionaries and for his immoral behavior, his hatred boiled over. Mkasa was killed. This was November 15, 1885. Charles Lwanga asked for and was given baptism.

He subsequently replaced Mkasa as Chief of the pages. He had secretly baptized some of the catechumens among them, and often saved them from the Kabasa's unchaste advances. In May of 1886 a rampant persecution began.

He was arrested with many of the Christian pages, aged 13 to about 30, who had publicly professed their Christian faith, and refused the immoral demands of Mwanga. They were killed On June 3, 1886 after weeks of cruel treatment. The youngest martyr was St. Kizito, age 13. Charles Lwanga was 24. Because of his holiness and courage he was was able to give his companions the joyful support they needed to sustain their faith.