Feast Day - June 3
Charles and 21 other Ugandan martyrs, ages 14 to 30, were officials and pages in the court of King Mwanga II of Buganda. The king, after first accepting Christianity among his people, began to insist that converts abandon their new faith. He also preyed sexually on the young men at court. As head of the pages and their chief catechist, Charles tried to protect his charges. But, when they would not reject Christianity, they were killed in 1885-86; some were speared to death and others, like Charles, were burned alive. These first martyrs from sub-Saharan Africa were canonized in Uganda in 1964 by Pope Paul VI; they are the patrons of African Catholic Youth Action, converts and torture victims.
“This is the place where Christ’s light shone on your land with a particular splendor. This was the place of darkness, Namugongo, where Christ’s light shone bright in the great fire which consumed Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions. May the light of that holocaust never cease to shine in Africa! The heroic sacrifice of the Martyrs helped to draw Uganda and all of Africa to Christ, the true light which enlightens all men (Cf. ibid. 1: 9).” (St. John Paul II, Homily in Kampala, Uganda, February 7, 1993)
Quote from St. John Paul II, copyright © 1993, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City State. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Copyright ©2019, Catholic News Service–United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.