Martyrs’ testimony shows that “loyalty to God, honesty and integrity of life”, not “the worldly pleasures or earthly power” give “joy and lasting peace”. This is what Pope Francis said this morning in Kampala, Uganda, in the Namugongo Shrines, while celebrating the commemorative Mass for Saint Charles Lwanga and his Companion Martyrs 50 years after their canonization.
The Pope pointed out that the legacy of the martyrs is alive when we either “bring their witness to Christ in our homes and to our neighbors, in our workplace and civil society” up to “the most remote corner of the world”. Charles Lwanga’s and his companions’ extreme sacrifice, he continued, “does not lessen our care for this world, as if we looked only towards future life”.
“On the contrary – the Pope explained – it offers a purpose to our life in this world and helps us reach the needy, co-operate with the others for the sake of the common good and build a more fair society which will promote human dignity without excluding anyone, defend life, God’s gift, and protect the wonders of nature, the created, our common home”. Francis’ second day in Uganda has begun with a visit to the Anglican shrine of Namugongo where, as a tribute to the ecumenism of blood, the Pope has unveiled a commemorative plaque of the Anglican martyrs tortured and killed at the end of the Nineteenth Century. Afterwards, the successor of Peter has embraced the Anglican archbishop and stopped for a silent prayer. Finally, inside his pope mobile, in the midst of cheering crowds, he was transferred to the Catholic shrine consecrated by Pope Paul VI. The sacred building is located exactly where St. Charles Lwanga was burned by the king Mwanga together with his 21 young companions on June 3, 1886.