Homecoming: Remains of Two Ugandan Martyrs to Return from Rome

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The Catholic Church in Uganda is eagerly preparing for the long-awaited return of a significant piece of its history: the remains of two martyrs who bravely faced persecution in the late 19th century.

Charles Lwanga and Matiya Mulumba, revered as heroes of faith, were among a group of 45 young men, both Catholic and Anglican, who met their tragic fate at the hands of King Mwanga of Buganda between 1885 and 1886. Their steadfast devotion to their beliefs ultimately led to their canonization as saints by the Catholic Church in 1964.

The remains of Lwanga and Mulumba were originally entrusted to the Missionaries of Africa, a Catholic society, and sent to Rome before their official recognition as saints. Now, plans are underway for their return to Uganda.

Although the exact date for their homecoming is still being finalized, Father Richard Nyombi, a member of the Missionaries of Africa, anticipates their arrival in September 2024. This timing coincides with the 60th anniversary of their canonization by Pope Paul VI.

Upon their return, the remains will find a place of honor at Uganda Martyrs University, alongside other cherished artifacts, including a chain believed to have been used during their executions and a cross crafted from mvule wood, reminiscent of the materials present during their martyrdom.

The news of their impending return comes just weeks before Uganda observes its annual Martyrs’ Day on June 3rd, a national holiday that draws millions of pilgrims to commemorate the sacrifices made by these courageous young men. Among those executed were some who served as pages in King Mwanga’s court, underscoring the brutality of the persecution they faced.

Father Nyombi reveals that due to the nature of the executions, not all victims’ remains were recovered, likely devoured by wild animals.

The return of Lwanga and Mulumba’s remains is regarded as a poignant opportunity for the faithful to reflect on the enduring legacy of these martyrs and draw inspiration from their unwavering faith and courage in the face of adversity.

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