June 3 is the day on which the Catholic Church commemorates St. Charles Lwanga and the martyrs of Uganda. In the 1880s in Uganda, then known as Buganda, 22 Catholic converts were put to death by King Mwanda. While Mwanga was initially tolerant of Christianity and Christians in his land, he began persecuting them and putting them to death. He had made homosexual advances to the young pages of his court. When they refused to give in to his desires, he became enraged and had them put to death. The thing that enraged him the most was that these new Christians were steadfast in their faith with all its moral implications.
St. Charles Lwanga and his fellow martyrs marched bravely and to their deaths in the sight of the missionaries who brought them to faith in Jesus Christ. These saints of Uganda believed that they would see the white Fathers again one day. The living blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit pulsated within them and they went forth victorious. However, (as Father Barron observes in the video below), the martyrdom of the Christians, in the eyes of many onlookers, must have seemed to be the end of Christianity in Uganda. But the irony, the divine paradox, is that the more the Church is persecuted, the more She grows. As the early Christian writer Tertullian once said, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Christians.” Because there is power in the Blood.
St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Holy Martyrs of Uganda, pray for us!