Protomartyrs of Equatorial Africa
King Mtesa of Uganda, in Equatorial Africa, had allowed the White Fathers to preach the Faith in his country with good results. However, his successor, King Mwanga, in 1885, initiated a fierce persecution against “all those who pray,” that is, all Catholics.
Among the victims of this persecution were the elite of the Ugandan youth—Charles Lwanga, the chief of the royal pages, and twenty-one of his companions. As their leader, Charles exhorted them by his words and left them an example by his death—since he was the first to be burned alive. Twelve others followed him on that day, June 3, 1886; the rest were killed between May 26, 1886, and January 27, 1887.
These Martyrs of Christ were beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1964 by Pope Paul VI who declared: ”These African Martyrs inaugurate a new age. Afroca is rising free and redeemed, bathed in their blood. Christianity has found a ready hearing in Africa, and we see this as a mysterious plan of God, a vocation proper to Africa, and a promise of historical significance. Africa is the new country of Christ. A clear witness of this fact is the direct simplicity and unshakable fidelity of these young African Christians.”
PRAYER: God, You made the blood of Martyrs become the seed of Chrisitns. May the field of Your Church, irrigated by the blood of St. Charles and his Companions, always produce rich harvests. Amen.