Pilgrims Trek To Paimol Martyrs Shrine In Agago

3285 Views Agago, Uganda

In short
Pilgrims started assembling at the shrine last week. Rev. Father Joseph Okumu, the Rector Wipolo Martyrs Chapel, says the shrine is set for this years anniversary.

Hundreds of pilgrims are trekking to Wipolo martyr's shrine in Paimol Sub County in Agago district to celebrate the lives of two catechists murdered there in 1918.

Daudi Okello and Jildo Irwa were allegedly speared to death on October 20th 1918 by people believed to have been agents of Arab slave traders for preaching against slavery.

Pope John Paul II beatified the two on 20th October 2002, paving their way into martyrdom. By Wednesday evening, at least 2,000 pilgrims had arrived at the Shrine from Gulu Achdiocese ahead of those from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Kenya who make the annual pilgrimage in honor of the martyrs. 

A pilgrimage in the Catholic Church is an ancient Christian discipline that is intended to bring the faithful closer to the Church and God. Pilgrims started assembling at the shrine last week. Rev. Father Joseph Okumu, the Rector Wipolo Martyrs Chapel, says the shrine is set for this year's anniversary.

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Daily mass commenced on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the Friday celebrations. Father Joseph Okumu has urged Christians to petition God for sanctification of the shrine.

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Locals are busy erecting temporary shelters around the shrine. The mood of many of the Pilgrims who have arrived at the shrine is that of expectation of blessings, healings and good health.  

Like every year, pilgrims from Gulu Archdiocese made a brief stopover at Ogom- Payira, the birth place of Daudi Okello, a few Kilometers from Aswa River Bridge along Gulu - Kitgum Highway to say prayers and petition him for strength and healing on their way to Wipolo in Paimol Sub County.

Born around 1902 in Ogom-Payira to pagan parents, Lodi and Amona, Daudi attended the instruction to receive baptism aged 16. Baptized by Fr. Cesare Gambaretto on June 1, 1916, Daudi received his first holy communion on the same day and was confirmed on October 15, 1916.

After completing his formation, Daudi accepted to be enrolled as a catechist and would later be killed alongside fellow catechist Jildo Irwa, born in 1906 to Pagan parents in Bar Kituba, North West of Kitgum Town.

Four shrines stand in Wipolo in memory of the catechists. Okema says access to the shrines to members of the public will be restricted to the northern gate via Wipolo Primary school while VIPs will access the shrine through the Eastern entrance.

Uganda celebrates other martyrs on June 3 at the main Martyrs shrine in Namugongo where at least 43 Catholic and Anglican converts were killed on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II between 1885 and 1886.


About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.