Everything To Know About Uganda Martyrs Shrine : Religious Tourism : Would you like to discover the hidden treasures of Kampala, the Uganda’s capital city? Do you know where Uganda’s tremendous martyrs are found? Do you wish to experience a great change in your spiritual life? A wonderful location, the Uganda Martyrs Shrine, is located somewhere in Uganda, near the little town of Namugongo, and is a must-see for anyone interested in Uganda’s faith-based tourism while on a Uganda safari tour.
It stands tall with the grandeur of an ancient cathedral, its structural design inspired by the African Hut. This basilica contains 22 copper pillars over 100 feet long, supporting the shrine, with seating for 1000 people grouped in a round pattern. Its construction began in 1967 and was finished in 1975. In remembrance of the martyrs, a lake was dug out, revealing an island or pavilion that resembles a contemporary boat. It features a structure that resembles a deck that holds the altar for Holy Mass. Under the altar is a cabin that houses the sacristy, a kitchen, and a bedroom that were briefly utilized by Pope Francis during his visit to Uganda in 2015.
The shrine is situated on a vast tract of land, but what’s more significant is that it was the location of the execution of 15 out of the 22 martyrs, ordered by Kabaka (King) Mwanga, for refusing to renounce their Christian beliefs. Under Pope Benedict XV’s pontificate in 1920, the Catholic young men and boys Kizito, John Mary Mzee, Balikudembe, Charles Lwanga, Buzabalyawo, and Bruno Sserunkuuma were among those who were later beatified and declared saints as a group.
Uganda celebrates Martyrs Day on June 3rd, and for the previous more than ninety-six years, this day has been special in this community. The streets, the locals, the stores, and their attendants will experience a different version of events for a day or more due to the large number of people who visit the shrine on this particular day, even though the sun will still rise in the east and water will still be the colorless liquid that slakes thirst.
At this time of year, pilgrims travel to the Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo from all around Uganda and other parts of Africa. Some choose to walk kilometers on bare feet, from as far away as Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, as a sacrifice in remembrance of the Martyrs, rather than taking the easy route in a car. Usually, there is a lot of perspiration on everyone’s body, and pilgrims stroll about clearly exhausted but still full of spiritual inspiration from these courageous young men that they have come to honor. You won’t fail to notice the hawkers and vendors peddling everything from teddy bears to souvenirs of the martyrs. In addition, there will be several food stands in the area serving cheap wine and pork, which is a favorite dish in the area for non-spiritual celebrations.
Ugandans have honored the martyrs through their architectural and artistic creations. The Uganda Martyrs Museum, established by the Church of Uganda, is a more recent addition to the tributes. A visit to this museum during a safari in Uganda would provide you with a visual tour of the lives of the martyrs and their deaths—some via brutal slaughter, others through a slow and agonizing inferno. Elderly Ugandans have grown tired of reciting historical events, but youthful, creative minds have preserved Uganda’s history for future generations through paintings, sculptures, folk music, and architecture.
Martyrs Shrine is one of the best locations worth visiting before or after your Uganda safari, whether mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest, chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest, game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park, or any other tour. The Uganda Martyrs Shrine can also be visited and combined with a safari in Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda. Get in touch with Focus East Africa Tours if you would like this activity to be included in your East African safari itinerary.