Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe

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Saint Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe
Karoli Lwanga and his followers.jpg
Joseph Mukasa and his companions
Born 1860
Buganda, Uganda
Died 15 November 1885
Nakivubo, Uganda
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 1920 by Pope Benedict XV
Canonized 18 October 1964 by Pope Paul VI
Major shrine Basilica Church of the Uganda Martyrs, Namugongo
Feast 3 June
Patronage Chiefs, politicians

Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe (1860 – 15 November 1885) was a Ugandan Roman Catholic and the majordomo at the court of Mwanga II of Buganda, recognized as a martyr and saint by the Catholic Church.


A member of the Muganda tribe, in about 1874, when he was fourteen, Balikuddembe was presented to King Mutesa I to be one of his many royal pages. Balikuddembe was a personal attendant on King Mutesa I and Majordomo under King Mwanga II. The Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa came to Uganda in 1879. Balikuddembe was enrolled as a catechumen in the following year and along with Andrew Kaggwa, was baptized by Père Simon Lourdel M.Afr. (Fr. Mapera) on 30 April 1882.[1] Balikuddembe took the baptismal name of "Joseph".[2]

From November 1882 to July 1885 the Catholic missionaries, for reasons of security, abandoned the Ugandan mission and re-located temporarily to the southern end of Lake Victoria. In the absence of the missionaries, Balikuddembe became leader of the Christians.[2]

King Mutesa was succeeded by his eighteen-year-old son, Danieri Mwanga II. Early in his reign, the new king began to crack down on Christian missionaries and converts in his country, and executed the British Anglican bishop James Hannington and his companions on October 29, 1885, ignoring Balikuddembe's pleas to spare the bishop. Godfrey Muwonge attributes this to the influence of Mwanga's Katikkiro (Prime Minister) Mukasa, who sought to control the spread of Christianity in Buganda by eliminating its teachers.[3]

Another reason that Mwanga killed Balikuddembe was because he spoke out against Mwanga's homosexual practices.[4] As catechumens, the recent converts could no longer engage in activities which they saw as unchristian. Mwanga saw this as insubordination.[5]

As Mwanga's senior adviser, Balikuddembe spoke against the killing of the bishop. Mwanga viewed this a disrespectful. After a night-long interview the king condemned Balikuddembe to death. Muwonge says that the Katikkiro Musaka saw to it that the order was carried out before the king could change his mind.[3] On 15 November 1885 Balikuddembe was taken to a place near the Nakivubo river where he was beheaded and his body thrown onto a pile of burning firewood.[2] His duties were assumed by the young catechist Charles Lwanga.


Balikuddembe is remembered as first of the Martyrs of Uganda and is the patron of politicians and chiefs.[1]

St. Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe Parish is located in Kisoga.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Uganda Martyrs Shrine, Namugongo, Kampala Archdiocese, Uganda". Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Shorter, Aylward. "Mukasa Balikuddembe, Joseph", Dictionary of African Christian Biography, 2003
  3. ^ a b "Katikkiro Mukasa Was Behind Many “Mwanga II Executions”, Buganda Watch, 21 May 2015
  4. ^ "Martyrs in the History of Christianity". Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  5. ^ Nsambu, Jean-Marie. "Who are Uganda Martyrs?", New Vision, 2007 Archived 2015-12-08 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ easervites (12 November 2014). "SILVER JUBILEE OF BALIKUDDEMBE CATHOLIC PARISH". Retrieved 14 November 2016.

External links

  • Joseph Mukasa bio
  • The Uganda Martyrs from the August 2008 issue of The Word Among Us magazine
  • Joseph Mukasa's profile from
  • Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe at Find a Grave
  • Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe's profile from Dictionary of African Christian Biography
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