The first of the
Uganda Martyrs was Joseph Mukasa. On the same day that Joseph was killed,
Charles was baptized and took charge of the pages. The king had thought that by
killing an influential person like Joseph, the other would not dare remain
Christians. Charles inspired the pages to vow that they would stay together, no
matter what happened. Whatever the king might do to them, they would not be
They were praying at
the time that God would give them faith and courage to keep their promises. They
knew it was only by God’s help that they could do so.
The king issued an
order that anyone seen praying was to be killed. The pages disobeyed the order.
Many of them who were still catechumens, were baptized. Some at court by
The king, in his fury
at being disobeyed, ordered them to be killed. They sang hymns and refused the
chance given to them to deny Christ at the last moment. Bruno, one of the
youngest pages, calmly said, “You can burn our bodies but you will not burn our
souls. Our souls will go to Paradise.”
Charles Lwanga led them in prayers and refused to be tied up. Instead, he
arranged his own deathbed on the pyre, and then stretched himself full-length on
it. He made the sign of the cross; closed his eyes and prayed until the flames
snuffed out his life.