June 3rd is the feast of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions. These great saints have been officially designated as martyrs for the Catholic faith.
Officially, St. Charles Lwanga is the patron of converts, torture victims, and the African Catholic Youth Action.
Unofficially, it would seem he’s a perfect patron of those striving for purity and resisting the myriad temptations and even downright celebrations of unchastity and sexual confusion. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 18, 1964 in Uganda.
The Story of Sts. Charles Lwanga, Joseph Mkasa and Companions
Charles Lwanga was martyred on June 3, 1886, at the age of 26, along with 12 other Catholics and 11 Anglicans, for refusing to renounce their faith and to comply with the corrupt and unchaste demands of King Mwanga of Uganda.
King Mwanga was a violent ruler and pedophile with a predilection for the young boys and men who served him as pages and attendants. The Christians at Mwanga’s court tried to protect the pages from King Mwanga.
A young Catholic named Joseph Mkasa was the chief steward of Mwanga’s court. He confronted King Mwanga when he killed a Protestant missionary and his companions. Angered by his underling’s insolence, Mwanga ordered him killed. At the hands of his executioners, and forgiving the tyrant king, Mkasa said, “A Christian who gives his life for God is not afraid to die.” He was beheaded and burned on November 15, 1885.
Upon Jospeh Mkasa’s death, chief page Charles Lwanga took his place in the instruction and leadership of the Christian community at Mwanga’s court, having sought baptism, himself, on the very day of Mkasa’s execution. When Mwanga’s sexual advances were rebuffed by another young page, the King killed him and then sealed the royal court so that no one could escape, summoning the country’s executioners.
Seeing that the situation had become desperate, Charles Lwanga baptized four catechumens that night, including a thirteen-year-old boy.
The next morning Mwanga brought his whole court before him and separated the Christians from the rest by saying, “Those who do not pray stand by me, those who do pray stand over there.” He demanded of the fifteen boys and young men (all under 25) if they were Christians and intended to remain Christians. When they answered “Yes,” Mwanga condemned them to death.
The king sent the prisoners on a 37 mile trek to the place of execution at Namugongo, along which walk, three of the faithful were killed. Upon arriving at the execution site, the survivors were held captive for seven days. On June 3, the Christian captives – 13 of them Catholics, 11 Protestants – were brought out and executed. As they were burning to death, they called out the name of Jesus, proclaiming, “You can burn our bodies, but you cannot harm our souls.”
Prayer to the Martyrs of Uganda
Martyrs of Uganda, pray for the faith where it is danger and for Christians who must suffer because of their faith. Give them the same courage, zeal, and joy you showed. And help those of us who live in places where Christianity is accepted to remain aware of the persecution in other parts of the world. Amen
(Source: Catholic Online – catholic.org)