St. Charles Lwanga & Companions (June 3)
The martyrdom of St. Charles Lwanga and his twenty-one companions in Uganda, Africa during the years 1885 - 1886, was a decisive factor in the remarkable spread of Christianity on that continent in that century. Cardinal Lavigerie's White Fathers were Catholic missionaries who reached that remote part of the world in 1879 and succeeded in converting a number of native Africans, some of whom were servants of King Mwanga, a local Ugandan ruler. Charles Lwanga was the master of pages in the court of King Mwanga. The king wished to enlist some of the pages in his court for immoral purposes. When the Christian pages refused, he began to threaten them with torture and death. They followed the example set by Charles, their leader, and steadfastly refused King Mwanga's advances. Summoning them before him, the king asked if they intended to remain Christian. "Till Death!" they responded. "Then put them to death!" the ruler angrily shouted. Many bystanders were amazed at the courage and calm of Charles Lwanga and his companions. On Ascension Day, June 3, 1886, they were each wrapped in a mat of reeds and set afire for their faith. In the following year, the number of converts to Christianity multiplied at an extraordinary rate.