Lwanga, Charles, St.

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One of the 22 uganda martyrs; b. Buddu County, Uganda, c. 1860; d. Namugongo, Uganda, June 3, 1886. Lwanga first learned of the Catholic faith from two retainers in the court of chief Mawulugungu. While a catechumen he entered the royal household of the Kabaka of Buganda in 1884 as the assistant to Joseph Mukasa, the majordomo in charge of the young court pages. On the night of Mukasa's martyrdom by order of the new Kabaka, Mwanga, Lwanga requested and received baptism (Nov. 15, 1885). During the succeeding months, when it was most difficult to communicate with priests, he protected the pages from Mwanga's perverted demands. He instructed and encouraged the youths and, at the moment of crisis, baptized the catechumens. When persecution started anew (May 1886), Lwanga was arrested with the Christian pages, after making with them a public profession of faith. During the march to Namugongo he was roughly treated. He was singled out for a particularly cruel death by slow fire. With 21 others he was beatified (June 6, 1920) and canonized (Oct. 18, 1964). Pius XI declared him patron of youth and Catholic Action for most of tropical Africa (June 22, 1934).

Feast: June 3.

Bibliography: J. P. THOONEN, Black Martyrs (London 1941). J. F. FAUPEL, African Holocaust (New York 1962). Acta Apostolicae Sedis 56 (Rome 1964) 901912.

[j. f. faupel]