This feast day is especially worthy of our prayerful reflection. As Bd. Paul VI wondered in 1964, “[w]ho could have predicted to the famous African confessors and martyrs such as Cyprian, Felicity, Perpetua and – the greatest of all – Augustine, that we would one day add names so dear to us as Charles Lwanga and Matthias Mulumba Kalemba and their 20 companions?,” so must we wonder what other pages are being added, in our own day, to the annals of African martyrs.
St. Charles Lwanga and his companions are also examples to us of an aspect of ecumenism many of us, myself included, don’t often think of, i.e., an ecumenical bond forged by martyrdom. Bd. Paul VI’s homily at the canonization of the martyrs noted, “nor must we forget those members of the Anglican Church who also died for the name of Christ.”
[The image is a photo of St. Charles Lwanga and companions taken a year before their martyrdom.]