Above: The Flag of Uganda
Image in the Public Domain
JANINI LUWUM (1922-FEBRUARY 17, 1977)
Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Boga-Zaire
Most martyrs of whom I write died long ago. The New Martyrs of Libya (2015) and Janani Luwum are among the exceptions to this rule.
Luwum confronted a brutal military dictatorship. Our saint, born in Mucwini village, Kitgum District, Uganda, in 1922, converted to Christianity in 1948. He began his studies at Buwalasi Theological College, in 1949, became an Anglican deacon in 1953, and joined the ranks of priests the following year. From 1969 to 1974 Luwum served as the Bishop of Northern Uganda. In 1974 he became the Archbishop of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Boga-Zaire. The dictator and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979 was Idi Amin Dada (1923-2003). Our saint and other Christian leaders protested Amin’s brutal suppression of nonviolent dissent. Government tactics included rape and murder. On February 16, 1977 Amin summoned Luwum, other Anglican bishops, the Roman Catholic cardinal, and a senior Muslim cleric to the presidential palace. The dictator accused the religious leaders of complicity in a plot to assassinate him. The dictator permitted the other clerics to leave, but Luwum had to remain behind. Our saint died the next day. Weeks later Luwum’s family received his bullet-ridden corpse. They fled to Kenya for safety shortly thereafter.
Luwum had told a critic,
I do not know how long I shall occupy this chair. I live as though there will be no tomorrow…While the opportunity is there, I preach the Gospel with all my might, and my conscience is clear before God.
Our saint preached the Gospel at all times, using words when necessary. His martyrdom brought many lapsed Christians back to active faith. He did indeed preach the Gospel with all his might.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
NOVEMBER 7, 2015 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT LIEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR
O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep:
We give you thanks for your faithful shepherd Janani Luwum,
who after his Savior’s example, gave up his life for the people of Uganda.
Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression,
but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again,
and now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
2 Corinthians 6:2b-10
—Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 229