Jinja Diocese Bishop Martin Charles Wamika has flagged off more than 6,000 pilgrims from Busoga sub-region on their journey to the Uganda Martyrs Catholic Shrine in Namugongo.
They were flagged off at St Joseph Cathedral, Rubaga Parish, Jinja.
A number of political and religious leaders, including Busoga Kingdom Premier Owek. Muvawala Joseph, Hon. Manjeri Kyebakutiika and Hon. Timothy Batuwa, were in the congregation.
Jinja Diocese is leading this year’s Martyrs Day celebrations.
The pilgrims will be moving with a pilgrim cross throughout the three-day walk from Jinja to Namugongo in Wakiso district.
On Wednesday, Bishop Wamika will hand over the cross to Namugongo Basilica. He will then preside over the first mass, welcoming pilgrims from various parts of the country and outside Uganda ahead of the Martyrs Day celebrations on June 3rd, 2023. The cross serves as a reminder of Jesus Christ’s suffering during his crucifixion at Calvary.
It empowers pilgrims to endure challenges such as the scorching sun and hunger on their journey, as they honor the Ugandan martyrs who sacrificed their lives for Christianity. During the blessing, Wamika also blessed small crosses for each of the 10,000 pilgrims participating in the walk from the Jinja diocese to Namugongo shrines.
These crosses bear the names of the 22 Catholic martyrs who were persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ within Buganda kingdom. Wamika emphasized the importance of pilgrims taking care of their health. “Endeavor to eat minimal food quantities, hydrate yourselves with enough water, and wear light decent clothing and flat shoes, which will keep you fit and healthy throughout our three days walk to Namugongo,” he said.
In preparation for the pilgrimage, the central executive committee for the Namugongo celebrations has arranged nine well-equipped ambulances with trained medical staff to provide healthcare services to pilgrims from the Jinja diocese. Additionally, dedicated security teams will ensure the safety of the pilgrims and their belongings during the entire journey.