Security has bounced scores of Christians at Namugongo Martyr’s shrines where they had turned up to join a special mass commemorating the Annual Martyrs day Celebration. The annual celebration is held in remembrance of 45 young Christian converts who were brutally murdered by Kabaka Mwanga between 1885 and 1887 because of their allegiance to Christianity.
Pope Benedict XV beatified the Martyrs in 1920. They were later canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964 at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome becoming the first-ever black saints from sub-Saharan Africa to be canonized. Every year, Christians from across the World flock to the shrine in a journey of faith and passion to commemorate this day in honour of their Religious heroes.
However, due to the COVID-19 induced restrictions, this year’s feast was limited to only 200 invited guests while others were advised to follow the celebrations on Media platforms. However, several people from near and far areas gathered at the main gate of the shrines as early as 6:30 am waiting to join the mass. The security officers manning the gate were asking for the official tag or car sticker before allowing anyone to assess the shrines.
Maria Tushabe from Mukono district is one of the many faithfuls that had turned up for the celebrations. She says that she had left her home a day before and stayed in a motel near the shrines. According to Tushabe, she thought when the church said that the mass would be limited to 200 people; it was going to be on a first come first serve basis.
Barbra Nalumansi from Masaka says that she wanted to among the first 200 by coming early. She however says that she was surprised when security informed her that only invited people would be allowed in. “When did the church start giving invitation cards for prayers? Mass should be first come, first serve basis,” she lamented as the security officer chased her from the entrance.
Nalumansi argues that there was no logic in limiting the gathering to only 200 people yet the place is so spacious. She also noted that they have seen people gathering in thousands in other places, which are smaller compared to the shrines.
Nalumansi was referring to the recent Presidential Swearing ceremony which attracted over 4000 guests. However, unlike the churches goers at Namugongo, those who attended the Presidential Swearing ceremony were tested for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Eucharistic mass at the Catholic shrine underway with strict observance of the Standard operating procedures including social distancing, wearing face masks and sanitizing hands among others.