Million Tourists Headed to Namugongo

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Namugongo Martyrs Shrine

Imagine that. It is believed that a mammoth 3 million tourists and counting seek out Uganda’s Namugongo for pilgrimage every June.

The location, might be extravagantly calming, but on this mission, the tourist come for the history, their faith! Namugongo Martry’s shrine, as it is called, is where they will be. See, it is here that 45 Martyrs were executed (23 Anglican, 22 Catholic) between 31 January 1885 and 27 January 1887.

Sentenced to death for ensuing the Christian faith and not worshipping then king, Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda Kingdom, these believers exuded faith. And for this, most of them were wrapped in flammable reeds and burnt to ash. So today, a shrine with a fitting tribute houses a memorial site for these fearless martyrs, most of whom were aged 10-30.

A place so huge and serene, it provides for a relaxing environment that should allow one some meditation time. Even maybe go so far as to channel the strength of the young believers that sacrificed their lives in an effort to root the catholic and Anglican faith in Uganda. You will come across their statutes spread all over the expansive compound on the Catholic side and a Martyrs’ Museum on the Anglican.

It is no doubt that a whole seven continents have contributed to its opulent beauty and tranquility. The chandeliers, windows, woodwork, carpeting and ceramic tiles. The main prayer gazebo is both ornate and serene, surrounded by a pool of freshwater believed to have magical powers.

Namugongo Martyr’s shrine has hosted its fair share of religious heads. Oh yes, three popes; Pope Paul VI in 1969, Pope John Paul II in 1993 and Pope Francis in 2015 have visited. The main structure here is a unique dome-shaped shrine where pilgrims pray on rainy days. Boasting of a vibrant sound system that is pleasant to the ear.

Thanks to it, you will listen to the Bishops reciting the rosary with clarity. On the other hand, the lighting is classical giving an aura of calmness. Its outdoor courtyard is complete with fountains and trees is not to be missed. Regardless of your religious affiliation, you will be awestruck by its beauty.

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