A shrine in Uganda that attracts one of the biggest annual Christian gatherings in the world holds water that is holy but not fit for consumption, according to local church authorities.
Christian pilgrims to the Ugandan Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo in the centre of the country have been cautioned against drinking it.
“The water in Namugongo is distilled, but it is not safe to drink. This is also because it runs from many places. People can take it and use it for signs, but don’t drink it,” Episcopal Conference secretary general John Kauta told state-run New Vision website.
Mr Kauta said pilgrims drawing water from a holy well to receive spiritual healing, could make the sign of the Cross with it, but that health experts had advised church leaders against consumption, as the water is unclean and unsafe.
The Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo is one of the largest Christian pilgrimage destinations in Africa. The event in June is a national public holiday for Ugandans to commemorate the first Christian martyrs in the country.
These were 22 Catholic and 23 Anglican martyrs who were executed for their faith on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda between 1885 and 1887.
Mr Kauta said there are plans to drill new wells and establish more taps for easier access due to the high demand for the water.
The event draws hundreds of thousands of Christians and some have already started arriving for this year’s state-sanctioned Martyrs’ Day celebrations.