Hundreds Participate in “Walk of Faith” Pilgrimage Ahead of Uganda Martyrs Celebration
CANAA || By Jacinta W. Odongo, Uganda Episcopal Conference || 26 May 2016
Over 200 pilgrims from across the country including the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Dr. Maria Mutagamba and the State Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo on Sunday May 22, 2016 joined Rt. Rev Joseph Antony Zziwa, the Bishop of Kiyinda Mityana Diocese in the inaugural symbolic pilgrimage known as the “Walk of Faith”.
The Spiritual Walk, which was organized by the Diocese of Kiyinda Mityana, the host of this year’s Martyrs Day celebration slated for June 3, alongside Uganda Episcopal Conference and Uganda Tourism Board, started from Munyonyo Martyrs Shrine to St. Matia Mulumba Parish in Old Kampala.
It kicked-off at 8.00am with opening remarks about the aim of the walk from Rev. Fr. Lazarus Kiggundu, the Chairperson of the Organizing Committee for the 2016 Martyrs Day celebration in Kiyinda Mityana.
Rev. Fr. Joseph Mukasa Muwonge in charge of the Martyrs devotion in Uganda also gave a brief history about the Martyrs.
“It is from this place where Kabaka Daudi Mwanga II made the decision to kill the Martyrs for their strong faith in Jesus Christ. He associated the bad omen with preaching of the missionaries who had converted the Martyrs to Christianity,” he said.
“It was also at this place where the first three Martyrs including St. Denis Ssebuggwawo, St. Andrew Kaggwa and St. Ponsiano Ngondwe were killed on May 26, 1886,” he added.
The symbolic pilgrimage was flagged off shortly after a word of prayer at exactly 8.50 by Most. Rev Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, the Archbishop of Kampala, Bishop Zziwa, Hon. Mutagamba and Hon. Lokodo.
During the walk, the enthusiastic pilgrims made three stopovers for a moment of prayers at the places of martyrdom of St. Denis Ssebuggwawo, St. Ponsiano Ngondwe and St. Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe as well as St. Athanasius Bazzeketa.
The spiritual journey concluded with the celebration of Holy Mass at St. Matia Mulumba Parish, presided over by Bishop Zziwa.
The venue of the Mass is a place where St. Matia Mulumba who was also a Martyr, was executed from. He was killed on May 30, 1886 also on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II.
In his preaching, Bishop Zziwa urged the faithful to embrace this year’s Uganda Martyrs day celebration theme “The Truth Will Make You Free,” to fight social evils like corruption and giving out bribes.
“Let us use these celebrations to reject social evils to live a society that embraces peace and love,” Bishop Zziwa said.
He thanked the Ministers and other pilgrims for sacrificing their time to participate in the Walk of Faith pilgrimage and called upon them to emulate the Martyrs to strengthen their faith.
He also expressed his gratitude to the organizers of the “Walk of Faith”.
The walk will be an annual event to officially launch the pilgrimage to Namugongo Catholic Shrine by Christians from all over the World.
Every June 3, Christians from across the world pay homage to Namugongo to commemorate the heroic faith of the 45 Martyrs, both Catholic and Protestant, who were burnt to death on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, the then king of Buganda between 1885 and 1887.
Twenty two Catholic Martyrs were beatified on June 6, 1920, by Pope Benedict XV, and on October 18 1964, Pope Paul VI canonized them as Saints. In addition to the Catholic Martyrs, there are two Catechists from Paimol, Blessed Daudi Okello and Gildo Irwa who were killed in 1918. The two were beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 20, 2002.
Meanwhile, there will be a novena to the Uganda Martyrs from Wednesday May 25 to Thursday June 2. All the Catholic Faithful have been called upon to recite this novena in honour of the Martyrs.