Also close by, is the Rubaga hill on which the St Mary’s Cathedral or Rubaga cathedral is built. The hill used to be the palace of one of the Buganda kings but was burnt down by fire and it remained abandoned for some time not until Kabaka Mwanga II in 1889 gave it to the catholic white fathers who were seeking to establish a church. The hill further accommodated number of catholic related programs and projects including the Pope Paul memorial hotel, schools and hospitals, offices for different missions and projects, and the burial grounds for clergies and lay men.
Rubaga division is a home to some of the most important historical sites and places in Kampala, that is; The Kasubi royal tombs and the three Christian cathedrals.
Rubaga cathedral is the oldest catholic cathedral in Uganda. Formerly there was a palace for the Kabaka Muteesa I. When his son Kabaka Mwanga II got enthroned, he gave out the hill to catholic missionaries; the white fathers. Standing on top of Rubaga hill, the cathedral has historical facts about the catholic faith and Christianity in Uganda. It was constructed in 1925. Among the notable historical facts are the remains of the late Archbishop Joseph Kiwanuka the first African Bishop and Archbishop of Kampala diocese.
In front of Rubaga Cathedral in Kampala stands a tall statue of Mary the mother of Jesus. The statue that has been there for 60 years faces the Mengo Palace, which also houses the Twekobe, Kabaka’s official residence. The statue at Rubaga was made from Rome and was brought to Uganda in 1897 by the white fathers.
The towering house of God stands on top of one of the original seven hills that make up the city of Kampala. Visible from all angles, especially in downtown Kampala, St Mary’s and Sacred Heart Cathedral Rubaga, is indeed a city landmark hardly missed by visitors coming to the Pearl of Africa.
“It is the mother of all churches in Uganda whose location was once home to the first Catholic missionaries in this country. The Cathedral’s location being in the metropolitan capital and centre, gives Rubaga cathedral an edge over others.
It is 248 feet long (260 if the walls are considered) and 63 feet wide. The transept measures 152 feet (162 including the walls) while the height from the floor to the ceiling is 50 feet. Some 2.5 million bricks were used to complete the Cathedral. The idea of building this “mother-of-all-churches” in Uganda came from Bishop Henry Halon in 1901 who launched an appeal to all Catholics to contribute financially towards a building fund.