Papal Pilgrimages to Uganda

Pope Paul VI


“By now you Africans you are missionaries to yourselves” The Pope stated at Lubaga Cathedral on his first day of his three days visit to Uganda on July 31, 1969.

Uganda wrote a golden page in history when Pope Paul VI became the first Roman Catholic Pontiff to go out of the Vatican gates on a foreign trip to Africa and more particularly to Uganda on July 31- August 2.

He canonized the Uganda Martyrs on October 18, 1964. 

Archbishop Emmanuel Kiwanuka Nsubuga (later a Cardinal), Uganda’s first Metropolitan Archbishop of Kampala, invited Pope Paul VI in 1967, when he had a private audience with him in Rome. 

Pope John Paul II


“Darkness has not extinguished your light. I know that in your hearts you feel the pain when you see the apparent triumph of injustice, corruption and violence. As your father and friend, the Pope understands how difficult it is to keep the candle burning in your hearts” The Pope said at Namugongo on Sunday, February 7, 1963.

The first non-Italian Pope from Poland, Pope John Paul (now a Saint) visited Uganda at the invitation of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, from February 5 – 10, 1993. While in Uganda, the Holy Father visited Soroti and Kasese. Like Pope Paul VI, John Paul made a pilgrimage to Namugongo shrine to honour the Uganda martyrs. 

Archbishop Emmanuel Wamala, (made a Cardinal in 1994) was the principle host of the 1993 Papal Visit, in his capacity as Metropolitan Archbishop of Kampala and elder Bishop to the Uganda Episcopal Conference. 

Pope Francis


“The most dangerous enemy of remembrance is forgetfulness but it is not the only one. The most dangerous enemy of remembrance is when we take for granted everything we have received, Everything that has been passed down to us” Pope Francis told Priests, Religious men and women and Seminarians at St. Mary’s Cathedral Lubaga on Saturday, November 28, 2015.

The first Jesuit Pope, the Holy Father became the third Pope to visit Uganda. He arrived in Uganda from Nairobi, Kenya on November 27. Again like his two predecessors, Pope Francis came to Uganda as a pilgrim to venerate the Holy martyrs, at Namugongo shrine. 

Archbishop Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, initiated Pope Francis’s pastoral visit to Uganda during an audience with the Holy Father in 2013.