Namugongo Martyrs Shrine is located at 12km distance from the Kampala City Center along Jinja Road. Namugongo was an established place of execution in the pre-colonial Buganda and its role grew stronger following the execution of the religious converts on 3rd June 1886 by Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda. Towards the end of the month of May, the unclear number of the Baganda Men and women who were known or suspected to have been baptized were held captive near Mengo and were forced to match while naked and others would be dragged on their back up to Namugongo where they were kept for days as the large pyre was being prepared. It was then on 3rd June the captives were given an opportunity to denounce the new religion but the converts turned down the offer.
The convert Charles Lwanga who headed the catholic faith was cut into two parts and thrown into the fire from there. The next day, other converts were bound in reed mats and thrown into the pyre and were thus burnt alive. The range of 26 remembered victims of the holocaust were all baptized and thus known to many by name. However the contemporary reports indicate that over 30 people were thrown into the fire.
In the year 1920, the Pope Benedict XV declared the 13 known catholic Martyrs along with nine catholic victims of separate killings of May 1886 which paved the way for their future canonization. The counts of 22 catholic Martyrs were officially canonized during the Vatican II conference by the Pope Paul VI on the day of 18th October 1964. Following this move, the Pope Paul VI paid a visit to Uganda being the first reigning pope to step the foot in the sub Saharan region of the world to make pilgrimage at Namugongo in the month of July 1969. The pope instructed that a shrine to be built on the spot where Lwanga was executed in cold blood. The Namugongo Martyrs Church devoted in 1975 and eventually named basilica church is unique and magnificent metallic and modern styled building drawing its architectural inspiration from the local traditional Busisira huts. The site was subsequently visited by the Archbishop Robert Runcie of Canterbury in the year 1984 while in the year 1993, Pope John Paul II also paid a visit to it. The event of execution of the religious converts is a great thing that is honored in the hearts of countless believers and Uganda is gifted to have had such people. The day 3rd June is dedicated in commemoration of these people and the nation and other people beyond borders undertake a safari to Uganda to pay pilgrimage to these great believers that the world has ever had.