Today’s Saint

Daily Journey with the Saints

June 3 | Sacrifice

Saint Charles Lwanga

A.D. 1860–1886

The history of Christianity is paved with sacrifices large and small that echo the love of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross in every place and time. Self-denial and sacrificing for the sake of others is a rich theme that runs through the lives of the saints.

Saint Charles Lwanga is no exception. In fact, his sacrifice was so great his story can be hard to read, but it brought forth amazing fruits.

Lwanga was a page in the court of King Mwanga—you might remember this king from our reflection on May 27. 

King Mwanga was a pedophile. Saint Charles Lwanga, a Christian baptized by missionaries, protected the boys of the court from the king’s sexual advances. This angered the king, but Lwanga was able to maintain his position in the court. That ended when two young Christians were condemned to death, and Lwanga baptized them before their execution. Lwanga was then arrested along with all the other Christians of the king’s court. The king tried to coerce them into renouncing their faith, but not a single one gave in. Furious, the king condemned them all to death. In all, 45 Christian martyrs were killed by Mwanga.

After being marched to their spot of execution, Lwanga was separated from the others so that he may be burned to death. Lwanga asked if he himself could arrange the wood. His executioners allowed it, and once he had assembled the wood, he took his place upon it. The fire started, but Lwanga stayed amazingly calm, speaking only twice. The first was when he said, “It is as if you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me." The second was at the very end, when he used his final breath to say, “Oh, God.” 

Saint Charles Lwanga sacrificed himself for others and for the truth of his faith. And what fruits did his sacrifice bring?

In 1886, when Lwanga and the other martyrs were killed, there were only a handful of Christians in Uganda. Today, Uganda is 84% Christian. On the spot where Lwanga was killed, Christians have built a basilica in the shape of the wood that Saint Charles Lwanga arranged for his execution.

The virtue of sacrifice enhances the meaning of our existence. The ability to set aside our desires and personal preferences, expecting nothing in return, is evidence of the nobility of the human person. Our sacrifices—big and small—echo through history in ways we cannot imagine. Let your selfishness give way to love and you will embrace the sacrifices of daily life enthusiastically. The fruits will be extraordinary.


I will sacrifice for the sake of love.

This reflection is brought to you from book title.

Patron Saint of: African Catholic Youth Action, Converts, and Torture Victims

Canonized: October 18, 1964

Canonized By: Pope Paul VI

Feast Day: June 3

Feast Day Shared By: Saint Clotilda

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