Bishop Joseph Mukasa Zuza
His patron saint was Joseph
Mukasa: May his soul rest
in peace.
Historical notes on the Diocese of

The Catholic Diocese of Mzuzu is one of the eight
Catholic Dioceses in Malawi and it's Bishop is Rt.
Rev. John Alphonsus Ryan.  

The Diocese covers the districts of Mzimba,
Nkhatabay and parts of Rumphi and Kasungu.  The
patron Saint of the Diocese is Charles Lwanga and
the Diocese is dedicated to Our Lady of the
Immaculate Conception.  

The Diocese of Mzuzu covers an area of 27,912
square kilometres and has a population of  690,072
and eleven parishes.  

The origins of the Diocese of Mzuzu begin from the
Prefecture Apostolic of Northern Malawi which was
erected on 18th May from the Vicariate Apostolic of
Malawi, by the Decree issued on 8th May 1947.  

On the 3rd of March 1961, it was then raised to the
status of North Nyasa Prefecture with late Right
Rev. Marcel St. Denis chosen as the first elected
Prefect Apostolic by the Holy See.

The past ordinaries of the Diocese of Mzuzu are:

  • Right Rev. Marcel St. Denis, W.F (1847 –1957)
  • Right Rev. Jean Louis Jobidon, W.F (1957
  • Msgr. John Vincent Roche, SSP (1987 –1995)
  • Right Rev. Joseph Mukasa Zuza, DP (1995 –
  • Msgr. Albert Michael Muwowo -  23rd Jan, 2015.
  • Right Rev. John A. Ryan (2016 - Present)

For a list of the parishes in Mzuzu Diocese click here

For a list of the institutions in Mzuzu Diocese, click here
St. Charles Lwanga: Patron Saint of Mzuzu

St. Charles Lwanga and his companions (martyrs) died for their faith between
November 15, 1885 to January 27, 1887 in Namugongo, Uganda and
beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1964.  The genesis was that in 1879 Catholicism had
started to spread in Uganda through the preaching of the White Fathers, a congregation
of priests which was founded by Cardinal Lavigerie.  Initially they were well received
by King Mutesa of Uganda.  The priests quickly settled and began preparing
catechumens for baptism through which some young people in the the king’s court had
become Catholics.

However the situation changed when King Mutesa died and his son Mwanga took over
the throne.  He murdered one visiting Anglican Bishop and became hostile towards the
Catholic faith especially when he saw that Joseph Mukasa, the Chief page, was
protecting the younger boys from the King’s lust.  Joseph Mukasa denounced the King’
s behaviour and as a result, the King beheaded him on November 15, 1885.

After the beheading of Joseph Mukasa, the 25 year old Charles Lwanga, who was
dedicated to the Christian education of the young ones, became the chief page.  He
took was protecting the young people from the lust of the King.  

On the night when Joseph Mukasa was murdered, Charles Lwanga and his companions
were to the White Fathers to receive baptism. Afterwards more 100 catechumens were
baptized soon after the death of Joseph Mukasa.  When King Mwanga learnt that one
of the young men was learning the Catechism, he became very angry and ordered the
questioning of all the pages so that the Christians could be separated from the non-
Christians.  He found out that 15 of them were Christians between the ages of 13 and
25.  The King asked them if they were willing to keep their faith. They answered in
unison, “Until death!”

As a consequence, they were bound together and taken on a two day walk to
Namugongo where they were burned at the stake.  On the way to Namugongo,
Matthias Kalemba, exclaimed, “God will rescue me. But you will not see how he does
it, because he will take my soul and leave for you only my body.”  The executioners
brutally cut him into pieces and left him to die alone in pain on the road.

After reaching Namugongo, the executioners, left the young people bound together for
seven days.  They prepared and gathered the wood for the fire.

On June 3, 1886, which is the Feast of the Ascension, St Charles Lwanga was
separated from his companions and he was burned at the stake. The executioners
burnt him slowly beginning with his feet until the whole of him was burnt. As they
were burning him, they asked him to renounce his faith so that he could be released.
But he refused and exclaimed;  “You are burning me, but it is as if you are pouring
water over my body.”  As he was being burnt, Charles Lwanga continued praying
silently and before the fire reached his heart; St. Charles Lwanga looked up in the sky
and exclaimed in a loud voice, “Katonda! – My God!,” and with those last words, he

The other companions of St. Charles Lwanga were all burned together the same day
and as they were being burnt, they kept on praying and joyfully singing hymns until
they too died.  All together, there were 22 and last to be murdered was a young man
named John Mary, who was beheaded by King Mwanga on January 27, 1887.  St.
Charles Lwanga is the patron of the Diocese of Mzuzu.  

May Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception intercede for us so that like St. Charles
Lwanga, our patron saint, the Diocese of Mzuzu, that is, the Bishop, priests, religious
men and women and all the lay faithful may be strong in defending the faith for the
salvation of souls.

St. Charles Lwanga, pray for us!