Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Vatican has finally elevated Uganda Martyrs Church, Munyonyo into a minor Basilica for its unique connection with the Uganda Martyrs.
The minor Basilica status is granted by a special decree signed by the Pope following a series of processes. Although the processes ended on July 19th when The Holy See granted the church the title and dignity of a Minor Basilica, it was publicly pronounced this morning.
The decree was signed by Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on behalf of Pope Francis.
The Uganda Martyrs’ Church is the tipping point where the Uganda Martyrs began their walk of faith to martyrdom at Namugongo execution ground following the verdict of historical Buganda Kingdom ruler, Kabaka Mwanga II.
It is also the spot where the first two Ugandan martyrs St. Denis Ssebuggwawo and St. Andrew Kaggwa met their death during that notorious execution on account of their faith.
St. Denis Ssebuggwawo was speared to death, about 500 Meters from the ground hosting the church while St. Andrew Kaggwa was chained onto a tree, sitting a short distance from its Western gate.
On Monday, Cardinal Robert Sarah pronounced the Church a Minor Basilica to thousands of Catholic faithful gathered for morning mass in order to complete the transformation.
Cardinal Sarah read the Papal decree signed by Holy See Pope Francis, upgrading the Church into a Minor Basilica in Latin, after which it was translated into English and Luganda to a thunderous welcome by the Christians.
The Church immediately erupted into an atmosphere of electric celebrations as Christians danced and joyfully sang.
Christine Piwang, the vice Chairperson of the Laity at the minor Basilica says becoming a minor Basilica has been their long-time dream.
Piwang explains that the upgrade of the Church introduces a special bond between it and the Pope. It now means, the Munyonyo Minor Basilica can now host high stature spiritual programs which ordinary churches are never allowed to celebrate.
According to Piwang, minor Basilicas hold special spiritual significance including the use of the official Seal of Vatican in Church documents and communications.
Christine Piwang says for a Church to be elevated into a minor Basilica, its Bishop applies to Vatican with the backing of the house of Bishops. Rome then constitutes a council of Worship to review information related to the Church including its history, spiritual significance, pilgrimage, Architecture, number of congregations and religious connections with the saints or the Pope amongst others.
It is then consecrated and declared a minor Basilica with a Papal decree signed by the Pope. The process ends with a public pronouncement to the Congregation by the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on behalf of Pope Francis.