Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions


Gospel MK 12:1-12

The story of Charles Lwanga and the parable of the vineyard are the same story:

Background on Charles Lwanga:

Charles Lwanga was a Ugandan Catholic catechist and one of 22 Ugandan Christians martyred for his faith. Born in the kingdom of Buganda (southern Uganda), Charles served as a page in the court of King Mwanga II. Mwanga came to the throne at the age of 16. He was a violent ruler and pedophile who forced himself on the young boys and men who served him as pages and attendants. Though originally tolerant of Christians, he increasingly regarded Christian missionaries as a threat to his rule.

Charles was a convert from paganism. Though he was only baptized the night before being put to death, he was a moral leader to his court colleagues. He instructed many in Catholicism and baptized fellow pages. He also protected these young men from the homosexual demands of Mwanga.

On May 25, 1886, Mwanga ordered a general assembly of the court and brought charges against two of the pages, whom he then condemned to death. The following morning, Charles Lwanga secretly baptized those of his charges, though they were still only catechumens. Later that day, King Mwanga called a court assembly in which he interrogated all present to see if any would renounce Christianity. Led by Lwanga, the royal pages declared their fidelity to their religion, upon which the king ordered them bound and condemned them to death by fire. As he was being burnt, Charles said to the Guardian, “It is as if you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me.” Twelve Catholic boys and men and nine Anglicans were then burnt alive.

Parable Summary

In Jesus’s parable he tells the story of a landowner building a vineyard and winepress which he then left in charge of some hired tenants. He sends some people to check on the progress of his vineyard and those who he sends are killed by the tenant’s. He then sends his son thinking that they will respect him and listen to his requests. They do not. They kill the Son.


If it is easy to assume that the owner of the vineyard is God, Where does King Mwanga fit into the parable and where does that very earthly king think he fits in? For Mwanga he demanded that he alone was the absolute ruler, a ruler over life and death. In his mind he was a God-King. The Kingdom and its citizens were his. The same is true for the tenants who are placed in charge of that vineyard. Over time they,like Mwanga,  gradually begin to view that vineyard as theirs and the true owner’s assistants as intruders. The tenants have them killed just as Mwanga had Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions killed for intruding on his kingdom. Charles Lwanga recognized the true king of Buganda as Jesus Christ, the second person of the trinity, as those sent to that vineyard recognized its true owner. One of the sins of Mwanga was that he viewed Buganda as something he owned, and something to be used for his satisfaction. His mindset was not to assume the role of a steward given the responsibility of caring or guiding that nation. He saw his Kingdom, not Gods Kingdom . Charles Lwanga and his companion’s strength or grace was not bowing down to that false God, and not giving up on those he was in charge of. Like Christ, he guarded his flock in the service of Christ the King.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s