Although it is evidently the least known of all the historical places related to the Catholic Church
in Uganda, Mapeera Nabunnya hosted great events that are crucial in understanding the religious
and socio-economic transformation of Uganda.
Located at Plot 4, Stenseera Road, in the vicinity of Pope Paul Memorial Hotel in Rubaga,
Mapeera-Nabunnya mission station was founded by Fr. Lourdel Mapeera and Fr. Denoit
Camille, in 1890. The two priests of the White Fathers Missionary Society died at this place, in
one year and, were buried on the spot until 1901 when their remains were transferred to the
cemetery behind Rubaga Cathedral.
According to the Very Rev. Fr. Richard Nnyombi of the Missionary Society of White Fathers,
Nabunnya witnessed a tremendous increase in the Catholic population due to the fact that
Kabaka Mwanga was by then following the Catholic faith although he had not been baptised.
From this place, the missionaries started building on the top of the hill, which Mwanga had given
them. The place was named after Nabunnya, one of the wives of Kabaka Mwanga, a Protestant
baptised Esther, who resided in the area. The mission station was later transferred to the hilltop
in stages, starting from June 1891.
In August 2015, the Archbishop of Kampala, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, allocated Nabunnya to
accommodate the offices of ‘Mapeera and Amans Beatification Committee (MABEC)’and
'Mapeera and Amans Beatification Promoters' Association (MAB-PRO).’ He further expressed
the wish to develop it into a pilgrimage centre.
Activities at the Centre
Mapeera-Nabunnya Pilgrimage Centre provides all the information concerning the beatification
of Mapeera and Amans. All the 'favours' and 'miracles' received through the intercession of the
duo are reported to this office.
The office also organises pilgrimages ‘in the footsteps of Mapeera, Amans and the Uganda
Martyrs.’ The centre also has a library, which is stocked with books and souvenirs about the
pioneer missionaries, the Uganda Martyrs and the history of the Catholic Church in Uganda.
The Centre further welcomes the faithful/pilgrims who want to come and pray around the small
monument built at the spot where Fr. Simeon Lourdel Mapeera was first buried, upon his death
on May 12, 1890. Mapeera-Nabunnya Pilgrimage Centre was earmarked by Kampala Capital
City Authority as one of the historical sites in Kampala.
Official Inaugration of the Centre
Mapeera-Nabunnya Pilgrimage Center was officially inaugurated by the Vicar General of
Kampala, Msgr. Charles Kasibante, on the 20th December 2015. Kasibante said that Nabunnya
held an important position in the history of the Catholic Church, which was why it was right and
just to make it a pilgrimage centre.
“Nabunnya was at one time the centre of Catholicism in Uganda. Many missionaries stayed here
and from here, they spread the gospel. Many Church functions were done here. People were
taught religion and also baptised here. The second Cathedral was also build here. Fr. Mapeera,
who first opened for us the door of God’s mercy and kindness died here, on May 12, 1890. His
body was first buried here, before it was taken to the chapel in the old cemetery, behind Rubaga
Cathedral. Let us use this place to strengthen our faith. Let us use the facility to widen the
kingdom of God, just like our ancestors in the faith, the pioneer missionaries. Let us also pray
tirelessly for the beatification of Fr. Mapeera and Bro. Amans.”
Fr. Emmanuel Ddamba asked Christians to pray through the intercession of Fr. Mapeera and
Bro. Amans and subsequently report all the miracles and favours they will receive to the center,
because it will be upon them that the Vatican will make the decision to beatify the two
missionaries. Ddamba later asked Christians to encourage their fellow parishioners to book for
pilgrimages with the centre. He also encouraged parents and administrators of schools to arrange
with the centre pilgrimages for their children.
The Director of the Centre, the Very Rev. Fr. Richard Nnyombi also expressed joy at the centre’s
inaugration: “The Mapeera and Amans Beatification Promoters team has been operating without
an office. We are grateful to Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga for giving us this place. But we
are also happy for Bishop Christopher Kakooza, who prophesied way back in 2009 about the
construction here of an adoration chapel, with people coming to worship God any time. The
centre will be open from Monday to Saturday.”