Ugandan Diocese Upbeat about Animating Martyrs’ Day Pilgrimage, Ready for Full Participation

Namugongo Martyrs Shrine in Uganda, venue for the annual celebration of Martyrs Day. Credit: Uganda Catholics Online

The Catholic Diocese of Nebbi in Uganda which is animating this year’s Martyrs’ Day Pilgrimage in Uganda has expressed enthusiasm at organizing the religious gathering that is celebrated annually on June 3.

In an interview with ACI Africa, the Communications Coordinator of the Ugandan Diocese said, “When we were told to animate the occasion, we were joyous, we were happy and we are going to participate fully in animating the event.”

“Each Diocese is given a chance to animate the martyrs day in Namugongo and this year is our chance to do so,” Fr. Joseph Luger told ACI Africa in the Tuesday, May 28 interview, adding that the people of God in the Diocese expect to continue living joyfully even after the pilgrimage.

The Catholic priest said that Bishop Raphael p’Mony Wokorach, before his transfer to Gulu Archdiocese, had initiated a spiritual program for the Diocese that he said would enable the many faithful from the Diocese to participate at the event. 

“We had a Namugongo committee in March where all the parishes within the Diocese were represented,” he said, adding that a lot of awareness was created around the event across various media platforms.


Fr. Luger said that names of the Ugandan Martyrs were temporarily assigned to parishes and outstations of the Diocese to further boost awareness of the spiritual pilgrimage.

“We assigned these names to enable the people to know the spiritualities of the various martyrs and to strive to emulate them, as well as to seek their intercession,” he said during the May 28 interview.

Fr. Luger said that the Diocese of Nebbi has encouraged the more than 700 foot pilgrims for the Martyrs Day from the Diocese who were flagged off on May 15 to ensure they have personal prayer intentions that they will present to the martyrs.

The Ugandan priest highlighted the inspiration of a disabled man who joined the pilgrims despite not being Catholic.

“He is not even a Catholic but he has opted to drive his wheelchair to the place hoping to get something from the pilgrimage and the Martyrs Day,” Fr. Luger said 

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The Priest disclosed the Diocese’s prayer intention for the pilgrimage and the June 3 event, saying, “As a Diocese, we have a prayer intention for another leader who will lead us well.” 

The Communications Coordinator of Nebbi Diocese who is also the Director of Radio Maria, Uganda, shared with ACI Africa the activities that the Diocese of Nebbi has engaged in, saying, “The pilgrims from Nebbi Diocese were commissioned on May 15 and began their journey on the same day. They were supposed to cover 40 kilometers every day to complete their 450 kilometer journey to Namugongo Shrine.”

Fr. Luger shared with ACI Africa about the grand entry into the country’s Kampala city that the foot pilgrims were looking forward to on Tuesday, May 29.

On their entry into Kampala, “a special dance” called Agwara from the Alur people of Northern Uganda will be performed to welcome the Pilgrims, he said.

Namugongo Shrine is a large property covering the site where St. Charles Lwanga and his companions, who included pages at the royal court, were burned alive by the order of Kabaka (King) Mwanga II of the Buganda kingdom.


Thus, the Uganda Martyrs’ Day dates back to the first decade of Christian presence in the East African nation when 45 men aged between 14 to 50 years were killed because of their faith by the King of Buganda between 31 January 1885 and 27 January 1887.

Among the 45 were 22 Catholics beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1964. These martyrs continue to inspire the Catholic faith in the East African nation.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.