Pope Francis paid his respects on Saturday to Ugandan Christians who were burnt alive rather than renounce their faith. A sombre Francis prayed at shrines dedicated to the 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic martyrs who were killed between 1885 and 1887 on the orders of a king eager to thwart the influence of Christianity. At Namugongo, outside the capital, Kampala, where most of the martyrs were burned alive, the pope celebrated mass in their honor to mark the 50th anniversary of the Catholics’ canonisation. As many as 2 million people, including Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, the president of South Sudan and the descendant of the king who ordered the martyrs killed, were expected to attend the mass,
They are so important because they sacrificed their life because of their religion
Follower Beneh Ssanyu, who arrived at 1pm on Friday to secure a prime front-row seat
Some of the pilgrims had been here all night to honor the martyrs and see the pope, braving rains and sleeping on mats to guard against the mud that turned the grounds into chocolate-coloured muck. During his two days in Uganda, Francis is expected to touch on some of the same themes he emphasized during the first leg of his trip in Kenya: corruption, poverty and giving young Christians hope and encouragement. After the mass on Saturday, Francis has a rally with young people, a visit to a charity and a meeting with local priests, seminarians and nuns. On Sunday, Francis heads to his final destination, the Central African Republic.
This legacy is not served by an occasional remembrance or by being enshrined in a museum as a precious jewel. Rather we honor them and all the saints when we carry on their witness to Christ, in our homes and neighborhoods, in our workplaces and civil society, whether we never leave our homes or we go to the farthest corner of the world.