Countercultural Witnesses

The Uganda Martyrs

Countercultural Witnesses

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In his living room wall, Matthew Segaali has a painting of twenty-two young men and boys in Ugandan tribal dress.

Some of them are standing in front of a backdrop of upraised spears; the rest, in front of flames as tall as they are.

While it appears that they are about to be put to death, the expressions on their faces are of peace, trust, and even joy. One of them is holding a palm branch; others have their hands folded in prayer; and others are clasping a cross or a rosary.

They are the men and boys whose martyrdom in 1886 is considered the spark that ignited the flame of Christianity in modern Africa. Canonized in 1964, the Uganda Martyrs are revered for their faith, their courage, and their countercultural witness to Christ.

These saints are highly honored in the Segaali home. Matthew’s son Joseph is named after one of them. The whole family regularly prays litanies for their…

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