This distinctive basilica was built in the shape of an African hut, the wooden interior supported on the outside by a steel lattice structure. It makes for a striking visual and worthy of the event that it commemorates. Nearby to Namugongo was the site of the 22 Ugandan Catholic martyrs burnt on the orders of King Mwanga II in objection to the encroaching Christianization of his lands, which in turn eroded upon his totalitarian sovereign rights as monarch. A shrine was built here in 1965 under the auspices of Joshua Serufusa-Zake, but it was not until the visit of John Paul II in 1993 that this holy site was uplifted to the title of basilica. Pope Francis also celebrated mass at the basilica in 2015. Namugongo itself can host up to 1000 worshipers at any one time within it’s unique interior, supported by 22 100 foot high copper pillars.
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