Feast of the day

Saint Charles Lwanga and companions

6/3/2024 12:00:00 AM

Saint Charles Lwanga and companions
The 22 Martyrs of Uganda
(† 1886-1887)

        Charles Lwanga was one of 22 Ugandan martyrs who converted from paganism. He was baptized the night before his execution. He was the chief of the royal pages and was considered the strongest athlete of the court. He was also known as "the most handsome man of the Kingdom of the Uganda."

        Charles instructed his friends in the Catholic Faith and baptized boy pages. He inspired and encouraged his companions to remain chaste and faithful. He protected his companions, ages 13 to 30, from the immoral acts and homosexual demands of the Babandan ruler, Mwanga.

        Mwanga was a superstitious king who initially tolerated Catholicism. However, his chief assistant, Katikiro, slowly convinced him that Christians were a threat to his rule. The premise was: If Christians would not make sacrifices to the pagan god, nor pillage and massacre, what would happen if the whole kingdom converted to Catholicism?

        When Charles was sentenced to death, he seemed very peaceful - even cheerful. His sentence was immolation. While the pyre was being prepared, he asked to be untied so he could help arrange the tinder. He afterward laid down upon it. When the executioner said that Charles would burn slowly, Charles replied by saying that he was very glad to be dying for the True Faith. 

        Charles was burned to death by Mwanga's order on June 3, 1886. He did not cry out; and only exclaimed: "Kotanda! (O my God!)" Pope Paul VI canonized Charles Lwanga and his companions on June 22, 1964. We celebrate his memorial on June 3 of the Roman Calendar. St. Charles is the patron saint of the African Youth of Catholic Action.