Monday, June 03, 2024

Feast Day of St. Charles Lwanga, patron saint of African youth

June 3rd is the Feast Day of Saint Charles Lwanga, born in 1860 in the Kingdom of Buganda in the southern part of modern Uganda. He served as a page and later as a major-domo in the court of King Mwanga II.


Saint Charles Lwanga, is the patron of youth and Catholic action in most of tropical Africa. An Ugandan convert to the Catholic Church,  was martyred with a group of 21 of his peers. In fear of losing the overbearing power he had on his subjects to a Christian worldview of equality, King Mwanga II persecuted Christians and executed many Catholics including Lwanga and other officials in the royal court.

Saint Lwanga protected his fellow pages, aged 13 to 30, from the sexual demands of the Bagandan ruler, Mwanga, and encouraged and instructed them in the Catholic faith during their imprisonment for refusing the ruler’s demands.

As he was being burnt alive for refusing the king's homosexual advances, Saint Charles Lwanga told the keeper of the flame, “It is as if you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me.”

On the night of Mukaso’s martyrdom for encouraging the African youths to resist Mwanga, Charles requested and received baptism. Imprisoned with his friends, Charles’ courage and belief in God inspired them to remain chaste and faithful.

For his own unwillingness to submit to the immoral acts and his efforts to safeguard the faith of his friends, Charles was burned to death at Namugongo on June 3, 1886, by Mwanga’s order.

Pope Paul VI canonized these 22 martyrs on October 18, 1964.

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