The Latest: Some Ugandan pilgrims spent 20 hours awaiting pope's Mass

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The latest on Pope Francis' first trip to Africa. (All times local.)


8:45 a.m.

Some of the pilgrims waiting for Pope Francis at Uganda's most famous Catholic shrine have been here since lunchtime Friday, hoping to score a good spot to see his first Mass in the country.

Pilgrims were camped out on mats, bundled in blankets against the morning damp chill as final preparations got under way at the Namugongo shrine. The site is where most of the 45 Anglican and Catholic martyrs were burned to death in the late 19th century on orders of the local king after they refused to renounce their faith.

The 27-year-old Benah Ssanyu showed off the mud encrusting her sandals and pants — evidence of her 1 p.m. Friday arrival that scored her a prime, front row seat for Francis' Mass honoring the martyrs.

She says she didn't mind the mud or the rain that soaked her overnight. She says the martyrs were a fundamental part of her faith: "They are so important because they sacrificed their life because of their religion."

— Nicole Winfield, Kampala


7:25 a.m.

Tens of thousands of people are streaming into a Kampala sanctuary where Pope Francis will celebrate his first Mass in Uganda honoring the country's martyrs.

As the sun rose Saturday over Namugongo shrine, pilgrims arriving on foot found spots in the park area where they could follow the Mass as venders sold rosaries, Mass booklets, pope calendars and plastic figurines of the Madonna.

Francis is due to pray first at the shrine honoring the 23 Anglican martyrs killed on orders of the local king in the late 1800s, and then at the nearby shrine marking the spot where another 22 Catholics were killed, many burned alive after they refused to renounce their faith.

— Nicole Winfield, Kampala