1918 Ugandan Martyrs Died Young

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II will soon beatify two Ugandan catechists, following this week´s proclamation of decrees recognizing a miracle attributed to them.



Lay catechists David Okelo and Gildo Irwa were martyred in Paimol, northern Uganda, in October 1918. The two Acholi youths were aged 19 and 22, respectively.

They died three years after the start of evangelization in the region, begun by the Comboni Fathers. The work of missionaries and catechists became harder when local witch doctors spread rumors blaming Christians for an outbreak of the plague and smallpox.

Despite the climate of hostility, the two youths went to Paimol to pick up the work of evangelization after the death of David Okelo´s brother, Anthony.

The two catechists arrived in Paimol in November 1917. Eleven months later, they were killed by two Adwi (revolutionaries who rose in arms against the chiefs imposed by the colonial authorities), who tried in vain to make David and Gildo leave the village and stop teaching catechism.

Their martyrdom was documented by the residents of Paimol and eight eyewitnesses, among whom was one of their murderers.