It was in 1964, during the Second Vatican Council, that Pope Paul VI canonised the Ugandan martyrs. Here are the words he spoke: ‘To the honour of the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and the increase of the Christian Religion; by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and Our own; after mature deliberation and frequent prayer for divine guidance, and with the advice of Our venerable brethren, the Cardinals, Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops of the Holy Roman Church present in the city. We decree and define as Holy, and inscribe in the Roll of Saints, the Blessed Charles Lwanga, Matthias Mulumba Kalemba and their twenty companions. We decree that their memory be commemorated by the Universal Church with pious devotion, each year on 3 June. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen’.
The Church in Africa has always been a suffering Church – and she has always come through, thanks to her unswerving faith in her Lord. In these days when our own faith is severely tested, may we draw on the inspiration and strength of the faith of the Ugandan martyrs. May their love of God transform us, their hope hold us fast, and their faith guard us, and may God bless you this day.