The Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo is one of the most distinguished shrines in Uganda and an important site among Christians in Africa. It is believed that, at Namugongo, 32 young Christian converts (Including Anglican & Catholics) were martyred on refusal to denounce Christianity, which was spreading like wildfire in Uganda right from 1870. This angered King (Kabaka) Mwanga II, prompting his to order the execution of the 32 men on Thursday 3rd June 1886.
On 3rd June of every year, thousands of Christians from East Africa & parts of the world, clergy, heads of state, and students of religious based Schools in Uganda make pilgrims to this site to commemorate the day the martyrs were killed. Days before the long waited 3rd June, you find people of all age, matching from all directions of Uganda heading to the shrine. The long waited day is filled with several events like prayers, baptism, plays and lots of eats and drinks.
Please note, many documents recorded a total of forty five (45) Uganda martyrs, but it is believed that many more believers met their persecution & death at the command of Kabaka Mwanga II between 1885 and 1887
Key Features at the Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo include:
- The Basilica Church of the Uganda Martyrs –The Church is affiliated with the Roman Catholics in Uganda. The Basilica Church at Namugongo was been built at the spot where the majority Catholics were martyred. The construction of the church was spearheaded by RIP: Pope Paul VI on his visit to Uganda and the Sub-Saharan Africa in 1969. Later in January1984, RIP: Archbishop Roberts Runcie of Canterbury, and RIP: Pope John Paul II in 1993, made pilgrimage to the Basilica, on their visit to Uganda.
- The Anglican Uganda Martyrs Shrine – This church lies 3.2km further, east from the Catholics Basilica. The church is affiliated with the Church of Uganda
- The Uganda Martyrs Primary School – A public, mixed, elementary school (grades 1 – 7)
- Uganda Martyrs High School – One of Uganda’s leading high schools is also located at Namugogo