Saturday, February 27, 2010

St. Charles Lwanga and the Martyrs of Uganda (1868)

(An entry in celebration of Black History Month)

Catholic Online states:
For those of us who think that the faith and zeal of the early Christians died out as the Church grew more safe and powerful through the centuries, the martyrs of Uganda are a reminder that persecution of Christians continues in modern times, even to the present day.

The Society of Missionaries of Africa (known as the White Fathers) had only been in Uganda for 6 years and yet they had built up a community of converts whose faith would outshine their own. The earliest converts were soon instructing and leading new converts that the White Fathers couldn't reach. Many of these converts lived and taught at King Mwanga's court....

Charles Lwanga took over the instruction and leadership of the Christian community at court -- and the charge of keeping the young boys and men out of Mwanga's hands. Perhaps Joseph's plea for repentance had had some affect on Mwanga because the persecution died down for six months.

Anger and suspicion must have been simmering in Mwanga, however. In May 1886 he called one of his pages named Mwafu and asked what the page had been doing that kept him away from Mwanga. When the page replied that he had been receiving religious instruction from Denis Sebuggwawo, Mwanga's temper boiled over. He had Denis brought to him and killed him himself by thrusting a spear through his throat.

He then ordered that the royal compound be sealed and guarded so that no one could escape and summoned the country's executioners. Knowing what was coming, Charles Lwanga baptized four catechumens that night, including a thirteen-year-old named Kizito. The next morning Mwanga brought his whole court before him and separated the Christians from the rest by saying, "Those who do not pray stand by me, those who do pray stand over there." He demanded of the fifteen boys and young men (all under 25) if they were Christians and intended to remain Christians. When they answered "Yes" with strength and courage Mwanga condemned them to death.
Read the whole thing here.

1 comment:

John said...

Hi Frank,
Americans live in a fantasy world where we have been isolated from true persecution. A couple of years ago I saw a documentary on children who survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in which one of them was Catholic. It was instrumental in my return to the Catholic Church(as was the death of my father and your impact on my life). Most people don't realize that at the time the largest collection of Christians in Asia were in Nagasaki and the steeple of the Catholic Church was used as the bomb site. It is an irony that a Christian Nation used a Catholic Church as its bombsite to end the war. The man(who was a boy at the time) could not understand why they had bombed Nagasaki "Don't they know that were are Christians?" he said.

We have no concept of true persecution.