Pope Francis Confirms Visit To Uganda

Pope Francis has confirmed he is to visit Uganda in November 2013. The visit will make him the third Pope to visit Uganda, well known as the Pearl of Africa.

Pope Francis’ visit comes after Pope Paul VI (1969) and that of Pope John Paul in 1993. Paul VI was the first reigning pope to visit the sub-Saharan Africa. Uganda becomes the only African nation to have three papal visits.

“God willing, I will be in Africa in November. In the Central African Republic first and then Uganda,” Pope Francis said at the Third World Priests Retreat in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. He was responding to an African priest asking when he (Francis) planned to come to Africa.

The pontiff added that it “is possible” that he may also go to Kenya, but said this is not certain, because of organizational challenges.

He also noted that the trip will come “after the 50th anniversary of the martyrs, though a little late.”

The Pope had already announced his intention to travel to Africa – specifically the Central African Republic and Uganda – during a press conference while returning from a trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January.

The 45 Ugandan Martyrs were killed by Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda between 1886-1887 for refusing to recant their faith— 23 were Anglican and 22 Catholic.

The 22 Catholic Martyrs were canonized Oct. 18, 1964 by Pope Paul VI in St. Peter's Basilica. The Church of Uganda has already begun preparations for the celebration of the Golden Anniversary of the canonization with a diocesan conference on the 22 saints. At this year’s Uganda Martyrs Day, police records put the number of pilgrims at over 3 million. Pope Francis’ visit will certainly see a large turnout from Uganda and the region.