Heritage of Martyrs is the reason for the strong faith found in Uganda today
Commemorating Ugandan martyrs
A huge crowd numbering hundreds of thousands of people gathered for an open-air Mass at the Namugongo shrines commemorating 45 Anglican and Catholic martyrs near Kampala. During the Mass, Pope Francis paid his respects to Ugandan Christians martyred for their faith in the 19th Century and praised Ugandan’s faith, which he said comes from the martyrs who have come before them., saying “Through your own veins runs the blood of martyrs, and that’s why you have such a strong faith and life that you enjoy now.” Reflecting on the example of the martyrs, he added “in order to live, we have to die…but, through that death, there is light for all.” The Mass marked the 50th anniversary of the martyrs’ canonisation.
Meeting with young people
On his last day in Uganda, Pope Francis heard testimonies of suffering from young people during the Youth Encounter at the Kololo Air Strip in Kampala. Among them was a young woman named Winnie who lost both parents as a child and who is herself HIV positive, and a young man named Emmanuel, one of 41 students kidnapped from Sacred Heart Minor Seminary, Lacor. He and his fellow prisoners were tortured, and some captives were killed. Emmanuel managed to escape after three months, and has since earned a degree in business administration, but asked people to pray for the eleven seminarians still held captive.
“To those who tortured us, am glad my heart has found love, forgiveness, peace and joy. They are all forgiven because Jesus Christ broke the power of death by suffering on the Cross,” Emmanuel said.
Addressing the crowd, the Pope spoke on the meaning of negative experiences and suffering, saying he had listened to their testimonies “with great pain in my heart,”
He reminded the young people present “All of you, be aware that you are a people of martyrs”. The Pope stressed the importance of prayer to the young people present in the fight against oppression and against HIV. “Pray to the Lord Jesus, because he is the only Lord” he said.
He reminded the young audience: “In the Church, we are not orphans, because we have Mary our mother” and added “When we have a problem, the first thing we can do is go to our mother. Pray to Mary, our mother.”