Fort Portal: Home of St Adolf Ludigo

Some Christians say their prayers on the rock of St Adolf  Ludigo on January 27, at Katoosa. PHOTO | ALEX ASHABA

What you need to know:

  • FYI. This year, Fort Portal diocese will lead the Roman Catholic celebrations of Martyrs’ Day. Did you know that this is the home of Adolf Mukasa Ludigo Tibeyalirwa, one of the Ugandan martyrs? Alex Ashaba meets the martyr’s niece. 

On June 3, Uganda Martyrs Day, this year’s celebrations will be animated by the Fort Portal Catholic Diocese. The preparations are in high gear for the celebrations.

This diocese last animated their celebrations in 1997 when it was under the stewardship of Bishop Paul L. Kalanda, who died aged 88 in 2015. Now the diocese is under His Grace Robert K Muhiirwa, who became the bishop in 2003.

Fort Portal Catholic Diocese is not only animating the celebrations but also it is home to one of the 24 Uganda Martyrs; St Adolf Tibeyalirwa Mukasa Ludigo.


Born in Misenyi Village, in Kyenjojo District, Ludigo was among the first 22 Ugandan martyrs killed by Kabaka Mwanga on June 3, 1885 and canonised in 1964. 

Almost 137 years after he was killed, the saint is survived by some relatives.

Evangeline Kabaruli, 103, a niece of St Adolf (he was her paternal uncle), lives about two kilometres from Katoosa Parish.

Born on September 4, 1919, Kabaruli, a resident of Kabagunda Village in Katoosa Parish, says her uncle becoming one of the martyrs is a blessing.

“The day he was canonised in 1964, we held parties at home and at the church (Kitanyata) now in Katoosa Parish together with the priests because it was something we had prayed for,” she says.

She adds that  for the canonisation of St Adolf,  while at home she was approached by Msgr Francis Kibira who was doing research on Adolf. Before canonisation of Uganda Martyrs, Bishop Vincent Joseph McCauley, who was the first Bishop of Fort Portal Catholic Diocese (1961-1972) at that time, instructed Msgr Kibira to find out about the life of Blessed Adolf.

“When we were young, we were told that our uncle with his sister (Nyanjura) and their mother (Kajote) were abducted. The Rev Fr Kibira came home with a picture of Adolf asking my parents if they knew the person in the picture, they first denied,” she recalls.

Kabaruli says she narrated the story to the priest about how Adolf was abducted and taken to Buganda. 

“On that day when Adolf was abducted with his mother and sister, my father survived because, he was on his way from tending animals when he saw the soldiers he hid in the bush,” she recounts.

Katoosa parish being blessed with St Adolf, the catholic diocese of Fort Portal has since selected January 27, as pilgrimage day to honour the saint.

“After releasing information to the priest, my parents also revealed everything,” she says.


Upon finishing the findings, Fr Kibira made a report which he submitted to Rome by May1962. 

He then represented Fort Portal Diocese in Rome in defence of the report and for Adolf’s canonisation and other martyrs by St Paul VI (then Pope) on October 18, 1964 in St Peter’s Basilica, Rome.

She says Nyanjura and Kajote never returned home saying up to now as family they do not know their whereabouts.

The old woman who walks with the aid of a stick and occasionally assisted by her grandsons and daughters, still has a razor sharp memory.

Wilson Byabandi, a grandson, says as a family they feel special to have a Uganda martyr in their lineage.

“If our grandmother was healthy, we would have taken her to Namugongo to celebrate this day because we are proud of her and all family members,” Byabandi says.

As Ugandans on June 3, we throng to Catholic and  Anglican shrines in Namugongo to commemorate the Uganda Martyrs.

 Kabaruli says her backache cannot let her make the pilgrimage.

“I  will stay home and recitemy rosary on that day.  To those making the pilgrimage pray for our family, to live  longer and be exemplary,” she says.

Home parish

Since Adolf  was born in Katoosa, Fort Portal Diocese chose him to be patron of Katoosa Parish.  St Adolf Ludigo is also the patron of farmers and herdsmen. The parish which has rocks  which were sanctified and with the opening up of  the parish in 1984, the place has since become a pilgrimage place.  The development of the area was kick started by Fr Fortunate Kasangaki (RIP) as its first parish priest and Msgr Kaijanabyo as curate.