Around 1882, Hannington heard of the murder of two missionaries on the shores of the Victoria Nyanza. This led to him offering himself to the Church Missionary Society, and he left England on 17 May, setting sail for Zanzibar on 29 June, as the head of a party of six missionaries. Crippled by fever and dysentery, Hannington was forced to return to England in 1883.
In June 1884, having recovered, he was ordained bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, and in January 1885, Hannington again departed for Africa. After arriving at Freretown, near Mombasa, Kenya, he decided to focus on opening a new route to Uganda: together with his team, he safely reached a spot near Victoria Nyanza on 21 October, but his arrival had not gone unnoticed, and under the orders of King Mwanga II of Buganda, the missionaries were imprisoned in Busoga by Basoga chiefs.
After eight days of captivity, by order from King Mwanga II, Hannington's men were killed, and on 29 October 1885, Hannington himself was stabbed in both sides. As he died, his alleged last words to the soldiers who killed him were: "Go, tell Mwanga I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood." Joseph Mukasa, a Roman Catholic priest and an official at Mwanga's court, rebuked the king for the deed and was beheaded for it. Hannington and his companions were among the first Martyrs of Uganda. Hannington's feast day in the Church of England is October 29. A dedication stone, erected in his memory along with the Bishop Hannington Memorial Church in 1938, bears the inscription "Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy"
James Hannington - 29 October - Missionary, Bishop, and Martyr
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy blessed martyr James Hannington with the virtue of constancy in faith and truth: Grant us in like manner for love of thee to despise the prosperity of this world, and to fear none of its adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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