One of the major historical and tourist sites in the history of the Church in Uganda, particularly the journey of the Uganda Martyrs is Mityana which was built in memory of the three Martyrs who hailed from Ssingo County of Buganda Kingdom: Noa Mawaggali, Lukka Baanabakintu and Matia Mulumba Kalemba. It was at the home of Lukka Baanabakintu, which had become the catechetical centre for the early converts in Mityana that the blood of Noa Mawaggali was shed on May 31 1886. It is at that very spot that the magnificent Church now a cathedral was built with 3 architectural armlets (cones) to symbolize the 3 Martyrs. The place where the church is found was originally called Kiwanga but later called Kiyinda was coined when the drama actors of the cultural leader of Ssingo County called “Mukwenda” who were called the “Bayinda” started making their practices and presentations from this place. Like the other villages around this area which got their names from the activities that took place in them, so Kiyinda was also named so.
According to the history of evangelization in the Buganda Kingdom, the first White Fathers reached Buganda in February 1879. They went to the Kabaka who gave them permission to carry out their evangelization and set up different areas from which they could carry out this work among which was Nalukolongo in Kampala. On May 31st 1880, Matia Mulumba Kalemba and Lukka Baanabakintu were admitted to catechesim classes at Nalukolongo becoming the first followers from Mityana – Ssingo. Noa Mawaggali became a tenant of Matia Mulumba Kalemba and built a house on his land. Kalemba was his friend, as well as his landlord, and it was this friendship, as well as the zeal and Christian example of Matia, which drew Mawaggali to him and which induced him to join the Catholic catechumenate. He was eventually baptized on 1st 1st November 1885, the Feast of all Saints, in a group of twenty-two. The local converts who had got some knowledge about the faith also went on to catechize their fellows at different places. The home of Lukka Baanabakintu at Kiyinda had become a place where catechumens could be admitted and instructed in the faith by Matia Mulumba and later on Noa Mawaggali and as noted earlier. When the White Fathers came to learn that tradition had still dominated the Kiganda life and so became disillusioned they in 1882 withdrew altogether from the Kingdom leaving the early Baganda Catholics to preserve their faith for themselves till 1885 when they were called back by Kabaka Mwanga.
“There was fear that with the absence of the Catholic missionaries, the new converts would easily be absorbed into the Church Missionary Society and become Anglicans. This did not happen. Despite the little classifications created by the religions, Baganda converts were of the same socio-political standing. There were, however, back and forth movements to the different religions by converts.
In his the book; Growth and Crisis of Buganda Monarchy in the Nineteenth Century, Médard. H said: “Almost all the first Christians have been Muslims for a while. In general, the first Catholics were not only ex-Muslims, but also ex-Protestants.”
With the missionaries gone, the few converts continued practising their faith but cautiously. According to Hastings’ book From Mission to Church in Buganda, he says: “During this period without pastors, it is noteworthy that, instead of disappearing, the group of Catholics survived and grew without the assistance of any missionary. They were grouped around what we might call four ‘house churches’.” These house churches were in different locations, with each house having a different leader. Some of these leaders were the first Baganda to be baptised by the missionaries before they were forced out of the kingdom. One such group was led by Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe, assisted by Jean Marie Muzeyi, and later by Charles Lwanga.
Another group, based in Nateete, was led by Andrea Kaggwa and deputised by Mathieu Kasule. The two leaders, besides being Christian converts, held important offices at the palace. Kaggwa was the chief musician while Kasule was the head of the forges. Lukka Baanakintu and Matia Kalemba were based in Mityana while Yosefu Kaddu led a church house in Kitomu in Bulemezi. All these church house leaders had been baptised by the missionaries, except Kaggwa and Muzeyi.”[…] The work of evangelization went on at this place (Kiyinda) not until six years later when the persecution of Christians on the orders of the King broke out.
When the persecution of 1886 broke out, Mawaggali was at Mityana, the Christian community there was too well known to escape notice. Mawaggali was in charge of the household of Matthias Kalemba, who was away at Mengo with Lukka Baanabakintu. It was the custom for the Christians of Mityana to send representatives each week for the catechetical class at the Catholic mission. On the morning of May 31st 1886, Mawaggali was in Baanabakintu’s house giving the new converts their final instructions and discussing with them the news of the arrest of Matia Mulumba and Lukka Baanabakintu. The raiding party led by Mbugano, the royal legate, closed in on the house. Mawaggali went to meet them, thus giving his fellow Christians the chance to escape. “Is that you Mawaggali?” called out one of the raiders. “Yes, it is,” he replied, at the same time drawing over his head the bark cloth he was wearing, so that he should not see the death stroke coming. Kamanyi, the king’s chief drummer, plunged his spear into Mawaggali’s back, who fell grievously wounded. One of the raiders suggested that Noa should be fed to the dogs. The wounded martyr was therefore tied on a tree and dogs were set upon him. From this event Kiyinda became a martyrdom site and a spiritual centre for later converts to the faith after the persecutions. In 1899 Busubiizi Parish was started as the first parish in Ssingo and Busujju counties and Kiyinda was one of the sub-parishes that formed it. Busuubizi was started and evangelized by Fr. Guy Catoire and Fr. Gourmoullen. Fr. Guy Catoire is the one who then built a chapel at Kiyinda where the Christians could have their Sunday mass from.
The canonization of the Uganda Martyrs by Pope Paul VI on 18th October 1964 paved way for the development of Kiyinda. In the process of canonization of the Uganda Martyrs, the late Archbishop Dr. Joseph Nnakabaale Kiwanuka then Ordinary of Masaka Diocese, had been chosen by the Episcopal conference to head the committee responsible for collecting all the necessary information to enable the canonization of the Martyrs to take place. In 1961, he was appointed Archbishop of Lubaga and as soon as he took up office he had special interest in the Martyrs of Mityana which was under his Diocese, because by that time Namugongo was still under Nsambya Diocese. He then took upon himself the task to develop the place. The Almighty followed Archbishop Kiwanuka as he went for the meeting that was called by “Vatican council II” in Rome. Here he was with different bishops from all over the world. He became a friend to Bishop Joseph Stimpfle who was the bishop of the diocese of Augusburg, West Germany. Bishop Stimpfle had a great desire to help the church in the growing countries. Having sold to him the idea to develop the place Bishop Stimpfle picked interest in it.
In 1962, Bishop Stimpfle invited Archbishop Kiwanuka to visit him in Augsburg. Bishop Kiwanuka also took with Fr. Heinrich Eudenbach who had already come to Uganda in 1959 to accompany him to Germany. Bishop of Augsburg signed an agreement on behalf of his diocese with the Bishop of Lubaga to start the construction of Kiyinda-Mityana. The work was to be spearheaded by Archbishop Kiwanuka helped by Fr. Heinrich Eudenbach a White Father who belonged to the Missionaries of Africa who is commonly known in Kiyinda as Fr. Henry Matovu.
Fr. Matovu who first resided at Busuubizi but later built a temporary residence at Kiyinda due to the hectic daily journey. He worked so tirelessly to mobilize resources to build Kiyinda. Shortly after the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs by Pope Paul VI on 18th October 1964, the foundation for building the memorial Church was laid by Bishop Joseph Stimpfle being at same time his first time to step in Kiyinda-Mityana on 1st November 1964. The real construction of the church at Kiyinda officially commenced in 1966, after the struggle of purchasing land from the people who were originally staying there. It was built with three armlets representing the three Martyrs from Mityana.
On 13th November 1966, Kiyinda which was first a home of Lukka Baanabakintu, then a catechetical instruction place and martyrdom site of Noa Mawaggali, became a parish having Fr. Henry Eudenbach Matovu as its first parish priest. In 1967 the Bishop of Augusburg sent another group of missionaries to help in the evangelization of the area; Fr. Richard Steiner, Fr. Richard Tyroller and Fr. Max Stetter all from the diocese of Augsburg. On October 17th 1967 the Carmelite Sisters also came to Uganda on the invitation of Archbishop Dr. Joseph Nakabaale Kiwanuka, following a solidarity meeting he had had with Bishop Joseph Stimpfle of Augsburg. The first group of Carmelites came from the monastery of Welden (in Germany). They were received by the Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga who had then succeeded, who also helped them to establish their monastery, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Carmel, at Kiyinda-Mityana, where they have stayed since then. Through their prayers which is their main activity and other works, they helped very much in the work of evangelization of the area done by the missionaries who had been sent here.
The new Church at Kiyinda was consecrated on 11th February 1968 by Bishop Joseph Stimpfle. Other witnesses present were Cardinal Agagian from Rome, Archbishop Emmanuel Nsubuga as well as Bishop Adrian K. Ddungu of Masaka diocese. The work of propagating faith in the people of Mityana went on successfully under the leadership of the priests at the parish, the Carmelite monks, and the other delegates who had been sent from Germany including Dr. Brundhilde Rothdach, Ms Charlotte Rothdach, Ms Erika Scholz. These were helped by the local clergy among whom were Msgr. Paulo Muyombya and Fr. Andrew Bakka.
Different structures were put up to facilitate the mission work here among which were the social centre for helping to equip women with different vocational skills, the parish hall for parish meetings, seminars, functions and social gatherings. Under the leadership of Dr. Brundhilde and his companion a health centre named after St. Lukka Baanabakintu was also set up at the parish to cater for the bodily health of the parishioners. In 1969, a Catechetical formation centre named after St. Matia Mulumba was also started at Kiyinda to help in the training of catechist for the parish and other areas of the diocese and it was first headed by Fr. Emmanuel Jjagwe. In the later developments still under Fr. Henry Matovu we see the construction of schools both primary and secondary named after St. Noa Mawaggali, to help in the education of the children in the area and also to inculcate religious knowledge into them.
On 17th July 1981 a new Diocese of Kiyinda-Mityana was created by the Holy Apostolic See being separated from the Archdiocese of Kampala. This was to respond to the changing needs of the times, that the growing number of the people of God in the greater Mityana may receive a ministry leading to their salvation and their greatest perfection and that the name of Christ maybe made known as widely as possible. The seat of the Bishop was placed at Mityana parish thereby raising Mityana parish to the dignity of a Cathedral church. In his apostolic letter issued on 17th July 1981 in the third year of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II, decreed that the new Cathedral be dedicated to the Holy Martyrs of Uganda. Hence Mityana Cathedral parish came to be known as Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine, Mityana Cathedral Parish. Since then the Parish at Mityana is the cathedral parish of the Diocese of Kiyinda Mityana with its first Bishop as Bishop Emmanuel Wamala now Cardinal, who had been previously the Vicar General of Masaka Diocese before his election to the Episcopate. The work of evangelization then became more vibrant in the parish considering it to be the model of all other parishes in the Diocese.
We note that the work of evangelization of Mityana Cathedral Parish started on 31st May 1880 when Matia Mulumba Kalemba and Lukka Baanabakintu were admitted to catechesim classes at Nalukolongo becoming the first followers of Christ from Mityana – Ssingo. Later we note the catechetical lessons carried out at Kiyinda by Matia, Lukka, together with Noa Mawaggali who was matyred at this spot and the other two in Kampala, therefore the blood of martyrdom becoming the real seed of the gospel in this area. This seed was later watered by Archbishop Dr Joseph Nnakabaale Kiwanuka who bore the idea of developing this area supported by Bishop Dr. Josef Stimpfle of Germany. The ground work was then handed over to Rev. Fr. Henry Eudenbach Matovu and his companions Fr. Richard Tyroller, Fr. Richard Steiner and Fr. Max Stetter, who endeavored to propagate the faith more into the people of Mityana hence building the Church of God in the area to the level of a parish together with the assistance of Archbishop Emmanuel Kiwanuka Nsubuga after the death of Archbishop Dr Joseph Nakabaale Kiwanuka. The Parish now celebrates 54 years of the Gospel truth from the day the foundation stone of the church was laid by Bishop Dr. Josef Stimpfle in 1964. Over these years the parish has given birth to over 28 priests and many religious as some of the fruits of evangelization in the area and now instruments of the same to other parts of the world some being missionaries. Currently the parish has 17 sub-parishes, four serving priests, two communities (convents) of nuns serving both the parish health centre and the primary school, a community of religious brothers, the Carmelite monastery, the catechetical formation centre and its priests and the priests serving at the administration offices of the diocese, all these are the current key players in the work of evangelization in the parish in collaboration with the catechists and the lay Christian faithful.
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