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Uganda Martyrs Trail Launched as Legacy of 4th IIPT African Conference

(Forimmediaterelease.net) (Kampala, Uganda June 20) Uganda Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon. Serapio Rukundo, launched the Uganda Martyrs Trail commemorating the events of 3 June 1886, when thirty-two young men were burned to death at Namugongo for their refusal to renounce Christianity. The Uganda Martyrs Trail was launched at a special ceremony during the 4th IIPT African Conference on Peace through Tourism.


Martyr's Trail Basilica
Namugongo - Uganda
The arrival of Christian missionaries in the 1880’s marked a turning point in the religious life of the people of Buganda; as well as the political structure of the kingdom and the region at large. Christianity was received with much excitement but becoming a Christian required a commitment to break away from traditional lifestyles and adjusting to new moral and religious standards. The new believers were therefore regarded as 'rebels' who had abandoned tribal traditions.


Given these conflicting values, King Mwanga was determined to rid his kingdom of the new teaching and its followers. He ordered the converts to choose between their new faith, and complete obedience to his orders. Those unwilling to renounce their faith would be subject to death. Courageously, the young Christians chose their faith and the King ordered the burning to death of thirty two young Christian men at Namugongo on June 3, 1886.

Rather than deter the growth of Christianity, the martyrdom of these early believers sparked its growth. Christianity is now the dominant faith in Buganda and Uganda as a whole. The 22 known Catholic martyrs were canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 18, 1964 and are now recognized as Saints by the Catholic Church. This was a first for modern Africa and a source of pride throughout the continent.

In launching the Uganda Martyrs Trail, Minister Rukundo stated: “The Trail will serve to create a greater international awareness of Uganda’s first Christians who sacrificed their lives rather than renounce their faith – and will attract pilgrims from regions throughout the world seeking a spiritual experience.”

Pope Paul VI became the first reigning Pope to visit Sub-Saharan Africa when he visited Uganda in July 1969, a visit which included a pilgrimage to the site of the martyrdom at Namugongo. While there, he dedicated a site for the building of a shrine church in honor of the martyrs which was subsequently dedicated in 1975 as a Basilica. Archbishop Robert Runcie of Canterbury, and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, also came on pilgrimage in January 1984, and Pope John Paul II in turn honored the martyrs with his own pilgrimage in February 1993. June 3rd of every year is commemorated as Uganda Martyrs Day in Uganda – a national holiday.

The Uganda Martryrs Trail will wind its way through the various sites where the Uganda Martyrs were killed or tortured in the 1880s including the Namirembe Cathedral, where Bishop James Hannington's remains were buried; Rubaga Cathedral, where archives on the lives of 22 Catholic martyrs are kept; Old Kampala, where St Mathias Mulumba was killed; and Namugongo, where martyrs were burned alive.

An IIPT International Peace Park was also dedicated at Namugongo with the planting of Peace Trees as part of the Trail launching ceremony. IIPT Founder and President Louis D’Amore said “IIPT is immensely honored to be part of this dedication ceremony. In walking this sacred ground, one comes to an appreciation that we are all sons and daughters of the One Creator – and for this reason, Namugongo offers unique possibilities as an International Peace and Reconciliation Center – where spiritual pilgrims can find peace within themselves – and parties in conflict can find peace and reconciliation with one another.”

About International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT)
IIPT is dedicated to fostering and facilitating tourism initiatives which contribute to international understanding and cooperation, an improved quality of environment, the preservation of heritage, and poverty reduction, and through these initiatives, help bring about a more peaceful and sustainable world.

IIPT’s mission is to mobilize travel and tourism, the world’s largest industry, as the world’s first ‘Global Peace Industry,’ an industry that promotes and supports the belief that ‘Every traveler is potentially an Ambassador for Peace.’

For more information on IIPT please visit: www.iipt.org; Tel: 802 253.2658; Fax: 802 253.2645; Email: href="mailto:Africa@iipt.org">Africa@iipt.org

Media Contact: Karen Hoffman, The Bradford Group. Tel: 212 447.0027; Email: iiptmedia@aol.com

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