Uganda Martyrs' Shrine

Located in Namugongo, this shrine marks the spot where Kabaka Mwanga II ordered the execution of 32 Christians  who refused to denounce their faith, including church leader Charles Lwanga who was burnt alive on or around 3 June 1886 – which is now celebrated as Martyrs’ Day. The shrine represents an African hut but looks more like something built by NASA than the  church.

 

The construction of the Uganda Martyrs' Shrine began in 1967 and it was completed and formally opened by the special Papal envoy, His Eminence Sergio Cardinal Pignedoli on 3rd June 1975.

 

Annually on 3 June, Christians from Uganda and other parts of the world congregate at Namugongo to commemorate the lives and religious beliefs of the Uganda Martyrs. Crowds have been estimated in hundreds of thousands in some years. In June 2015, an estimated 2 million people attended the event. .

 

Churches are in areas where martyrs were killed, and they are also honored on churches' murals and stain glasses. The most prominent shrine is Namugongo which is located where St. Charles Lwanga and his companions were burned. The Ugandan tradition of honoring martyrs is important because Ugandans are honoring their pre-Christian heritage of spirituality and ancestry. The martyr's feast happens on June 3, and there are about half a million people who participate in the feast annually, and the day of the feast is a national holiday. Many pilgrims come from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and all over Uganda to take part in the Ugandan Martyr's Feast Day at Namugongo, and many others follow the celebration on national television.