Rubaga Cathedral Church: St. Mary’s Catholic Church Rubaga

Rubaga Cathedral is the mother cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kampala which is the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in Uganda. It’s possible that you may ask about 4 or more people to direct you where St. Mary’s Cathedral is and they will tell you that they do not know because it is popularly known as “Rubaga Cathedral”.

Rubaga Cathedral is located on one of the seven hills of Kampala, Rubaga hill in Lubaga Division. The cathedral is situated about 3 kilometers westwards by road from Kampala city centre. Rubaga hill rises to 4,134 feet and it was once a home to the palace of the 30th Kabaka of Buganda Muteesa I. Kabaka Muteesa I reigned from 1856 to 1884 shifted from this hill to one of the nearby hills of Kampala called Mengo after his palace had been destroyed by fire. Later on in 1889, his successor Mwanga II donated the hill to the first Catholic missionaries who were also known as White Fathers and locally called Wafaransa meaning the French to set up their church and at the same time the Anglicans were given Namirembe hill also to set up their Anglican church there. The kings of Buganda used to allocate these missionaries different places to avoid conflicts among the followers.

Missionaries started the construction of a modern cathedral on this hill in 1914 and it was completed in 1925. On 31 December 1925, St. Mary’s Cathedral Rubaga was consecrated. This is where we find the home of the Archbishop of Kampala diocese Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga. Close to the church, there is Rubaga Hospital. Rubaga Cathedral has cemeteries of several prominent people that served in the Catholic religion including late Archbishop Joseph Kiwanuka who was the first black Archbishop of the south Sahara, Uganda’s first cardinal Emmanuel nsubuga and some missionaries among others. This is one of the popular places of worship in Kampala yet even situated on one of the famous and historical hills of Kampala.

Rubaga hill is locally and formerly known as Lubaga, a name that the hill earned because it was where the Kabaka of Buganda and his generals met when they were planning military expeditions. The hill ended up being named Lubaga from a luganda word “okubaga” which means “to plan”. After the hill had been donated to the French Catholic missionaries to do their missionary work and establish their church here, pronouncing the name Lubaga was a problem and they instead pronounced it as Rubaga. Rubaga became the popular name for the hill which was also passed on to the church and other facilities around the hill, for example Rubaga Hospital that also has a nursing school, Rubaga Girls’ Secondary School and more other smaller facilities there.

Rubaga hill offers spectacular views of the surrounding, the place is quiet and serene and the architectural design is beautiful to watch and know how amazing the ancient Roman style is.  Rubaga Cathedral church building has been renovated a number of times but the most of the material and architectural design have been maintained in their original form.

On your tour to Rubaga hill to see Rubaga Cathedral, you will have an opportunity to see this beautiful twin towered church that has maintained the ancient lovely architecture both in and outside the church, nice stain-glass windows and an extremely stunning design of the interior. There are many other places to visit and things to see at Rubaga; Pope Paul Memorial Hotel and Conference hall which is located near Kabaka’s lake