ST. Charles Lwanga

St. Charles Lwanga Cell Group / Kabondo

Saint Charles Lwanga Lugaaju our patron saint as a cell group / Kabondo within UCCC was born at a village called Kasanje-Birinzi in Buddu County around the year 1861. His father was Mabingo a bark-cloth maker of the Bush buck (Ngabi) clan and his mother was Gwokyalya of the Genet cat (Akasimba) clan. He was of brown complexion and a great wrestler. He later went to live with his Aunt Nnabatamivu who was married to Mawulugungu of Kyaato in Buddu. Mawulugungu was the Katabalwa the title for the deputy of Pookino the chief of Buddu County.

In the the year 1879, Mawulugungu was given the chieftainship of Kiteesa in Ssingo by King Muteesa I, he settled at Nnakwaya with a large number of people and servants he had come with from Buddu, and Lwanga was among them. Mawulugungu used to send to the capital people who lived in his enclosure to take gifts to the King, it is at the capital that they had an encounter with the Catholic missionaries and other catechumens who had started receiving religious instruction. Lwanga used every opportunity he was sent to the capital to go for instruction at Nabulagala where the Catholic Mission was located.

At the death of Mawulugungu in 1882, Lwanga with the help of fellow catechumens moved to Nakakuba in Bulemeezi County and lived in the home of Byakweyamba. While there, Lwanga was recruited by one of the palace guards of King Muteesa I called Mukasa Tuluuki, who used to send Lwanga to the capital to take bark-cloth to the King. It is during this time that Lwanga got acquaintance with Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe and they became good friends. Lwanga began to serve in the palace of the king when King Mwanga II had ascended on the throne, he was recruited as a page by his friend Balikuddembe who had seen that Lwanga was trustworthy, well behaved and very committed at religious instruction and teaching others.

At the palace Lwanga was made the leader of the pages of the royal enclosure and the deputy to Balikuddembe who was the leader of all the king’s pages. When the King Mwanga II wanted to make an artificial lake at the capital that would connect to Lake Victoria at Munyonyo, he gave the task to Balikuddembe who in turn assigned the work to Kaggwa Ndimukulaga and Lwanga to help him supervise the workers. It was during the construction of this artificial lake that Lwanga got the name Lugaaju (a name given to a white cow by cattle keepers) owing to his brown skin complexion. The workers who warn others when Lwanga was approaching that Lugaaju is coming. Among the workers that Lwanga supervised was Ssenkoole who was 40 years of age, he was not happy that he was under a young man like Lwanga and often resented the orders that Lwanga gave him.

Lwanga would always reply that he was just fulfilling the duty that the king had given him. Ssenkoole later became an executioner and had his revenge. At the death of Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe in November 1885, Lwanga and other pages went to the missionaries at Nabulagala and requested to be baptized. He was baptized by Fr. Peter Giraud on November 16th, 1885 and received the name Charles. After the death of Balikuddembe all the Christian pages in the palace chose Lwanga as their leader, a task he performed with great zeal and care. On the night of May 25th, 1886 when King Mwanga decided to kill the Christians, Lwanga gathered all the Christian pages and encouraged them to persevere, he told them that they were to follow him when the king would ask all the Christians to go one side. He told them they had to remain strong in their faith because they were going to die for Christ.

Very early in the morning of Wednesday May 26th, 1886, Lwanga baptized the pages who had not yet been baptized. These included: Mugagga, Kizito, Gyaviira, and Mbaaga Tuzinde. Lwanga led all the Christian pages to move to the side in the great audience hall where the king had commanded all the Christians to go, while holding the hand of young Kizito. From the moment until the time they arrived in Namugongo Lwanga was always encouraging his fellow Christians to remain firm and bear witness to the faith because they had the hope of going to meet the Lord in heaven. Charles Lwanga was killed by the executioner Ssenkoole who separated him from the rest as revenge for having made him work during the construction of the king’s artificial lake. He was tied in a mat made of reeds and then burnt with a slow fire beginning with the feet. Lwanga faced death with courage and never shed a tear or shout when he was being burnt. He was burnt at a place called Ndaazabazadde at Nakiyanja.

At the exact spot where Lwanga was burnt is the altar of the minor basilica of Namugongo. Lwanga and 12 other Catholic martyrs died on the Solemnity of Ascension on Thursday June 3rd, 1886 in the afternoon. He was around 25 years of age when he died.The bones of Charles Lwanga were kept by Christians who had survived the persecution who later took them to the missionaries at Nabulagala on November 2nd, 1886. They were kept at Nabulagala together with the bones of Matthias Kalemba Mulumba. It is the relics of those two martyrs that are held in procession at the celebration of the Uganda Martyrs Day on June 3rd at Namugongo. In 1934 Pope Pius XI proclaimed Charles Lwanga the special patron for the African Youth of Catholic Action. In 1950 Pope Pius XII proclaimed Charles Lwanga the patron of the African Catholic Action.

The Prayer to St. Charles Lwanga

Dear Lord, I pray through the intercession of St. Charles Lwanga, that you strengthen me in my weakness and remove all kinds of fear in my life. Grant me the bravery of St. Charles, which he constantly displayed in the face of persecution; and even in the face of death itself when he was killed.

I ask you Lord in your mercy to teach me the virtues of chastity and the purity of heart so that in my areas of jurisdiction, I will provide leadership that is both admirable and strong. Give me the desire to endure all kinds of tests and tribulations so that I will overcome the problems of this world for the glory of your name.

St. Charles Lwanga, I beseech you to intercede for me to the Lord for my intention … (mention the intention). We make our prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God for ever and ever. Amen. St. Charles Lwanga pray for us.


Group Leader

Mrs. Carol Kadowe

+44 7940 309766

Deputy Leader

Mr. Francis Yoga