Thursday, June 3, 1998
Thursday, June 3:
Feast of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Catechists and Martyrs
First Reading: Tobit 6: 10-11; 7: 1, 9-17; 8: 4-9
Psalms: Psalm 128: 1-5
Gospel Reading: Mark 12: 28-34
SAINT CHARLES LWANGA, CATECHIST, AND COMPANION MARTYRS
One of the Church's most recent saints, Saint Charles Lwanga and twelve companions were burned to death after withstanding tremendous torture in Uganda, Africa on June 3, 1886. They are the first group of African blacks ever canonized. This was done less than eighty years after their death during Vatican II by Pope Paul VI with most of the bishops of the world present in 1964. St. Charles is the patron of Catholic Action and has been offered as an ideal role model for all, especially African-American young men. Like the early Christians, the blood of St. Charles and his companions became the seed of Christianity in Africa with conversions more than tripling after their death. These martyrs were the first of over 100 missionaries, priests and ministers, including several bishops, who were to be slain during the bloody reign of the vicious Ugandan King Mwanga who, strangely enough, had invited the White Fathers into the area in 1879. It was through their efforts that much of Uganda was brought to the faith. Because of the priests' popularity and the surge of Christianity in Uganda, Mwanga felt threatened and retaliated with a vengence.