Remembering the martyrdom of Janani Luwum—a 20th-century martyr no less—do you hear what we ask of God? “Grant us” we pray “to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again….”
A bold intercession for ourselves and all who follow the Way of Love. May we have the heart to listen to God’s response and the courage to accept God’s grace to live as one “sealed with the cross of Christ” and confident that we, too, shall not be conquered by death but live with Christ who died and rose again.
The Collect for the Commemoration
O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give you thanks for your faithful shepherd Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example, gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In 1969 Luwum became Bishop of Northern Uganda, where he was a faithful visitor to his parishes as well as a growing influence at international gatherings of the Anglican Communion. In 1974 he was elected Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Boga-Zaire.
Luwum’s new position brought him into direct contact and eventual confrontation with the Ugandan military dictator, Idi Amin, as the Archbishop sought to protect his people from the brutality of Amin’s regime. In August of 1976 Makerere University was sacked by government troops. With Archbishop Luwum as their chair, the Christian leaders of the country drafted a strong memorandum of protest against officially sanctioned rape and murder.
In early February 1977 the Archbishop’s residence was searched for arms by government security forces. On February 16 President Amin summoned Luwum to his palace. He went there, accompanied by the other Anglican bishops and by the Roman Catholic cardinal archbishop and a senior leader of the Muslim community. After being accused of complicity in a plot to murder the President, most of the clerics were allowed to leave. However, Archbishop Luwum was ordered to remain behind. As his companions departed, Luwum said, “They are going to kill me. I am not afraid.” He was never seen alive again. The following day the government announced that he had been killed in an automobile accident while resisting arrest. Only after some weeks had passed was his bullet-riddled body released to his family for burial.Janani Luwum on Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music website
- Janani Luwum (Holy Women, Holy Men)
- Janani Luwum (Great Cloud of Witnesses website)
- Janani Luwum (Wikipedia)
- Janani Luwum (Westminster Abbey website)
- Lectionary readings for the commemoration
- What is a Collect?