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June 3

Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions - June 3

​Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions

Martyrs of Uganda

(1865 – 1886)

“You are burning me, but it is as if you are pouring water over my body.

Saint Charles Lwanga’s response after refusing request to be let go if he renounced his faith

Saint’s Life Story

Born in Uganda

Charles was born on January 1, 1860, at Bulimu, Buganda, Uganda to a Baganda tribe. Charles served as the chief of the royal pages and later major-domo in the court of King Mwanga II of Buganda. Charles was baptized by Pere Giraud on November 15, 1885.

White Fathers

In 1879, Catholicism began spreading in Uganda when the White Fathers, a congregation of priests founded by Cardinal Lavigerie, were peacefully received by King Mutesa of Uganda.

The priests soon began preparing catechumens for baptism and before long a number of the young pages in the king’s court had become Catholics.

However, on the death of Mutesa, his son Mwanga, a corrupt man who ritually engaged in pedophilic practices with the younger pages, took the throne.

King Mwanga’s Sinful Ways

When King Mwanga had a visiting Anglican Bishop murdered, his chief page, Joseph Mukasa, a Catholic who went to great length to protect the younger boys from the king’s lust, denounced the king’s actions and was beheaded on November 15, 1885.

The 25 year-old Charles Lwanga, a man wholly dedicated to the Christian instruction of the younger boys, became the chief page, and just as forcibly protected them from the king’s advances.


On the night of the martyrdom of Joseph Mukasa, realizing that their own lives were in danger, Lwanga and some of the other pages went to the White Fathers to receive baptism. Another 100 catechumens were baptized in the week following Joseph Mukasa’s death.

The following May, King Mwanga learned that one of the boys was learning catechism. He was furious and ordered all the pages to be questioned to separate the Christians from the others.  The Christians, 15 in all, between the ages of 13 and 25, stepped forward. The King asked them if they were willing to keep their faith. They answered in unison, “Until death!”

They were bound together and taken on a two day walk to Namugongo where they were to be burned at the stake.  On the way, Matthias Kalemba, one of the eldest boys, exclaimed, “God will rescue me. But you will not see how he does it, because he will take my soul and leave you only my body.”  They executioners cut him to pieces and left him to die alone on the road.

When they reached the site where they were to be burned, they were kept tied together for seven days while the executioners prepared the wood for the fire.

On June 3, 1886, the Feast of the Ascension, Charles Lwanga was separated from the others and burned at the stake. The executioners slowly burnt his feet until only the charred remained. Still alive, they promised him that they would let him go if he renounced his faith. He refused saying, “You are burning me, but it is as if you are pouring water over my body.”  He then continued to pray silently as they set him on fire. Just before the flames reached his heart, he looked up and said in a loud voice, “Katonda! – My God!,” and died.

Charles Lwanga’s Companions

His companions were all burned together the same day all the while praying and singing hymns until they died.
Below is a list of Charle’s companions were also entered martyrdom:

• Achileo Kiwanuka
• Adolofu Mukasa Ludigo
• Ambrosio Kibuuka
• Anatoli Kiriggwajjo
• Anderea Kaggwa
• Antanansio Bazzekuketta
• Bruno Sserunkuuma
• Denis Ssebuggwawo
• Gonzaga Gonza
• Gyavire
• James Buzabaliao
• John Maria Muzeyi
• Joseph Mukasa
• Kizito
• Lukka Baanabakintu
• Matiya Mulumba
• Mbaga Tuzinde
• Mugagga
• Mukasa Kiriwawanvu
• Nowa Mawaggali
• Ponsiano Ngondwe

Beatified:           June 6, 1920 by Pope Benedict XV

Canonized:        October 18, 1964 by Pope Paul VI

Feast Day:         June 3

Patron Saint:    African Catholic Youth Action, Catholic Youth, Converts, Torture Victims



Such courage! These young men went courageously to their deaths, filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so happy in their newfound faith, something completely baffling to the African chief. To St Charles Lwanga and his companions, their faith was the greatest treasure and they were willing and happy to die for it. Would that we too, graced by this great gift of faith, though we may never be called upon to die for it, it should be luminously clear to all that we are witnesses to Christ.

Source: Thought for the Day – 3 June – AnaStpaul


Martyrs of Uganda, pray for the faith where it is in danger and for Christians who must suffer because of their faith. Give them the same courage, zeal, and joy you showed. And help those of us who live in places where Christianity is accepted to remain aware of the persecution in other parts of the world. 

St Charles Lwanga and companions, Martyrs of Uganda, Pray for us!

Source: St. Charles Lwanga and Companions (

Saint Links

Aleteia – Who was St. Charles Lwanga?

AnaStpaul – Saint/s of the Day – 3 June – Uganda Martyrs or St Charles Lwanga & Companions

Catholic Exchange – St. Charles Lwanga and Companions

Catholic Fire – St. Charles Lwanga and Companions

Catholic Ireland – Jun 4 -Charles Lwanga and the Uganda Martyrs

Catholic News Agency – St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs of Uganda Feast Day: Jun 03

Catholic Online – St. Charles Lwanga and Companions

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Charles Lwanga

My Catholic Life – Saints Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs

Newman Ministries – Saint Charles Lwanga

Saints, Feast, Family – The Story of Saint Charles Lwanga

Saint of the Day – June 03 St. Charles Lwanga and Companions

uCatholic – Saint Charles Lwanga and The Ugandan Martyrs

Wikipedia – Charles Lwanga

Video Link

St. Charles Lwanga & Companions – YouTube Video (Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA)