Uganda Martyrs Shrine
Namugongo Martyrs Shrine is also known as the Uganda Martyrs Shrine. It is located in Namugongo town just about 15 kilometers from Kampala city. Namugongo is a respected religious site that was reserved because of the 22 Uganda Martyrs that were killed there by Kabaka Mwanga because of their Christian faith in 1885-1887. The place is beautiful and has a serene environment. It is one of the best religious sites to visit if you wish to get fully immersed into a strong feeling of devotion which you’ll surely have when you enter the huge silent Namugongo Catholic Church.
The construction of the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine started in 1967 and it was completed in 1975. It was put in place and dedicated to the Ugandan Martyrs. The shrine has a unique architecture, it was designed in form of the African traditional houses-cone shaped with 22 copper pillars and doors designed to express the lives and history of the Uganda Martyrs. The shrine has a sitting capacity of 1,000 people and the seats are organized in a circular order. It is said that 15 of the 22 Uganda Martyrs were burnt at the place where the church was placed.
There are a number of elements with different information about the Uganda Martyrs. A manmade lake (martyr’s lake) was tunneled in respect of the martyrs. The lake has an Island which is a thatched pavilion with a deck-like feature that where we find the alter for holy mass. It has capacity of accommodating over 200 clergy and it’s where they lead from on Uganda martyrs day. There is a cabin with a bedroom, sacristy and a kitchen under the deck-like feature and the place was briefly visited by Pope Francis in 2015 on his Uganda visit. The Martyr’s lake is a source of water which can be fetched by believers who visit the place hoping that it will open doors for miracles.
The action of the killing of the Uganda Martyrs by Mwanga was done to eliminate Christianity form the region but it instead brought more faith in the long run as Christians all over the world join together to pray and celebrate their lives. The martyrs were burnt from this place on 3rd June 1886 and the 3rd day of June every year is recognized as the Uganda Martyrs Day, a special day in Uganda for honoring the martyrs.
A few days to 3rd June every year, pilgrims flock Namugongo. They travel from different parts of Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and many other parts of the world. Large numbers of people move on foot from distant areas even from as far as Kenya and other areas. They move barefooted from their homes until they arrive at Namugongo all in honor of the Martyrs. Uganda martyrs day makes Namugongo a totally different place from the rest as it is characterized by lots of happy people, different businesses of those selling foods and drinks, clothes and different souvenirs.
Recently, the Church of Uganda established a museum at Namugongo to enable visitors to the shrine go through what the martyrs experienced. There are demonstrations of how they were burnt and the guide at the site will explain much more about the rest of the martyrs who were killed here and outside this site.
Namugongo is a religious place but also holds great history, has an old beautiful shrine that has been maintained in good condition and is worth visiting on your Uganda safari. This is one of the places Adventure in the wild safaris recommends it visitors to visit for a Kampala tour.