The Martyrs of Uganda

Charles Lwanga and his companions were a group of Roman Catholics and Anglicans murdered by Mwanga II, the King of Buganda, between 1885 and 1887.These deaths were part of a three-way religious struggle for political control. Although the Anglicans were not canonized in the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope did mention them. 22 of the martyrs were Roman Catholics and were canonized in 1964.

In 1877, the Church Missionary Society in London had sent Protestant missionaries to the court, followed two years later by the French Catholic White Fathers. These two competed with each other and the Zanzibar-based Muslim traders for converts and influence. By the mid-1880s, many members of the Buganda court had converted and become proxies for the religious and nationalist conflict being played out in the court. Kabaka Mwanga II, upon his ascension to the throne, attempted to destroy the foreign influences he felt threatened the Buganda state, but was instead deposed by armed converts in 1888.

Image: Prayer card based on a painting by Albert Wider