Saturday, June 3, 2023

The “Special Genius” of Uganda’s Martyrs

June 3rd commemorates the 22 Catholic martyrs of Uganda (Kingdom of Baganda, East Africa, 1886). They were canonized during the Second Vatican Council on October 18, 1964. The original “canonization icon” is hard to find in a high resolution photo. I have a beautiful, large, framed print of this image, and it was on my wall in my office (I think), but that was long ago, and—like so many other things—I don’t know where it is right now. Probably in storage — I have maybe a dozen or so books/icons/objects/etc in storage that are priceless to me; the problem is that they are buried in truckloads of ABSOLUTE JUNK, stored in several different places. In addition to having OCD (which is managed but never cured), I also just like to keep stuff, but I’m also absent-minded and disorganized.

Anyway, the original icon is full of African and universally Christian symbolism, and is very striking. I have attempted to “tune up” an originally tiny photo from the internet; much is lost, but perhaps some sense of the beauty comes through.

At the canonization, Pope Saint Paul VI pointed to the ideal of evangelization that—in bringing people to Jesus— also communicates “a new form of vitality which tends to release the spiritual powers and latent talents of the local population and so set people free, helping to give them a mature power of self-determination, and enabling them to express more fully, in their own idiom of art and culture, the special genius they have.”