Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, The Martyrs of Uganda

June 3
by Fr John Bartunek, LC | Source:

Uncle Eddy's E-mail -- June 3

Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions,

The Martyrs of Uganda (east-central Africa)

(entered heaven in 1886)

Dear Charlie,

I know you love acting, but do you realize what you´re getting into? Maybe God does want you to evangelize that subculture, but maybe he wants you to put your talents to use elsewhere. It worries me to have you trying to sell yourself in audition after audition. It´s so competitive, and the environment is so morally adrift, that your own moral standards may be eroded without you knowing it. I´m not saying don´t try it; I´m just saying make sure you know what´s at stake. And if you do follow through with this, you should make today´s saints your patrons.

Charles and companions died for their fidelity to Christ. Most of them were members of King Mwanga´s royal court. (Mwanga was king of the Kingdom of Buganda, now part of Uganda.) They had become Christian under the influence of the White Fathers, Catholic missionaries to sub-Saharan Africa. (Actually, some of the martyrs were Anglicans too; together they prayed and together they died.) And even when the missionaries had to leave the area, the Christians continued living and spreading their faith. But King Mwanga noticed that although the Christians were faithful subjects and servants, they didn´t fear him as much as the pagans did, and they refused to be victims of his debaucheries. Little be little, therefore, his lust for power turned his heart against the Christians, even though they were model members of the community. He and his henchmen enticed some of the Christians to abandon their faith, but they wouldn´t. That´s when the executions started. And they snowballed until twenty-two of them were arrested, tortured, and hideously executed.

I will spare you the gross details – well, maybe one example. A particularly high-ranking Christian, the 50-year-old St Matthias Mulumba, had his arms and legs hacked off and pieces of his flesh burned right in front of him. To prolong his agony his arteries were sealed and he was left to die in the broiling sun. Two days later he was still languishing. His was an especially painful martyrdom, but the others’ weren’t too far behind.

But back to my point. Going into acting is like going into Mwanga´s Kingdom – the culture is all about vanity and pride and sensuality. It´s in the air. And if you´re not careful, you´ll get infected. What should you do? Do what St Charles and his companions did: they prayed. They prayed daily; they prayed as they were led along their long march to the pyre where they were bound and burned alive; they prayed as the pyre was lit and the flames devoured them, they prayed and prayed and prayed. In fact, these Ugandan martyrs were so dedicated to prayer that they were known not as "Christians" but as "Those-who-pray." And such was the title by which King Mwanga condemned them.

If you too can make yourself worthy of such a title while you navigate the moral morass of the entertainment industry, I am confident that you will stay faithful, till the end, for the glory of God and for your own deep happiness.

Your devoted Uncle,


To read more about other Saints of the day, CLICK HERE

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