PICTURES: Luweero traders show love to Nebbi pilgrims

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PICTURES: Luweero traders show love to Nebbi pilgrims
Nebbi Catholic Diocese pilgrims set off from the West Nile district on May 15 | Joseph Omagor

Upon arrival at Luweero town, pilgrims from Nebbi Catholic Diocese received so much love as people have them fruits and food stuffs.

According to Festo, the assistant team leader, all the 520 pilgrims who left Nebbi on May 15 are all in good health.

"They are all fine," he said, adding that the number rose to 540 as more pilgrims joined them along the way.

The pilgrims, who spent Friday night at the Kasana-Luweero Catholic Diocese, are covering the more than 420km journey from West Nile to the Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo for the Martyrs Day celebrations.

Under the theme, "As for me and my family we shall serve the Lord". Nebbi Catholic Diocese is animating this year's Martyrs Day with a budget of Shs1.9 billion.

Martyrs Day is an annual celebration held on June 3; the feast of the Uganda Martyrs as decreed by the act of canonisation in 1964 by the Universal Catholic Church. The Uganda Martyrs Day attracts pilgrims from all corners of the world making it one of the biggest Christian events in the world.

The day commemorates the 45 martyrs, both Catholic and Anglican, who were killed on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, then King of Buganda between 1885 and 1887. In total, 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic converts to Christianity were executed between January 31, 1885, and January 27, 1887. On June 3, 1886, 32 young men were burned to death at Namugongo for their refusal to renounce Christianity. They were a combination of Anglican and Catholic converts.

The Uganda Martyrs Day celebration has a series of events that start a month earlier; with most of the Christians footing to the Shrine as a pilgrimage and homage to the Catholic Martyrs and Saints. Among other events is the Novena which begins on May 25 and ends.

Years after the death of Charles Lwanga, Mathias Mulumba and their companions, many people started seeking for their intercession; this was followed by individuals and small parties visiting their execution sites. The Dutch priest, then based at Nsambya, walked with a group of Christians to Namugongo and celebrated Holy Mass at the spot where Charles Lwanga was martyred. After Mass he erected a cross at the same spot and this marked the beginning of pilgrimages to Namugongo.

There are Catholic and Anglian shrines to the Martyrs' close to each other in Namugongo. Each year Martyrs Day attracts millions of pilgrims to the area with many coming from beyond Uganda. The Catholic Church beatified the 22 Catholic martyrs in 1920 and canonized them as Saints of the universal Church in 1964.

In 2015, Pope Francis visited Namugongo, where he celebrated Holy Mass. Before the Mass, Pope Francis paid homage to the Anglican martyrs at the Anglican shrine. The 2024 Martyrs Day is being organised by the Nebbi Catholic Diocese

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