HISTORY OF THE SHRINE:
From far, the eyes cannot fail to catch the sight of a whitish pinnacle towering the normally blue sky. As one approaches, one is gripped by that special feel of a godly environment, with a heroic atmosphere of the Martyrs given by the imposing giant structure of a shrine. This is Namugongo where now people flock daily in tens and thousands to honour and pray to God through the intercession of the twenty two Uganda Martyrs.
This Uganda Martyrs Minor Basilica/Shrine is a Catholic church dedicated to the Martyrs of Uganda who shed their blood because of the Christian faith. The Shrine is well known for its beautiful and unique interior and exterior, but it is specially notable for its shape and architectural plan: the 22 copper pillars-over 100 feet long that support the shrine built in form of an African hut and its wooden doors that depict the history of the Martyrs. The Shrine has a capacity 1000 seats arranged in a circular form.
The construction of the Uganda Martyrs' Shrine began in 1967. It was completed and formally opened by the special Papal envoy, His Eminence Sergio Cardinal Pignedoli on 3rd June 1975. Thanks to the late former Archbishop Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga the author of the project, Dr. Danhinden the Architect and the ROKO Construction for the wonderful work done. When Pope John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Namugongo on February 7, 1993, during his six -day visit to Uganda (5th -10th February 1993), he elevated the Shrine to a rank of a minor Basilica.