By 1900, the first White Fathers had arrived in Rwanda to spread Christianity to the natives. According to history documents, a delegation including Monsignor Jean-Joseph Hirth visited King Yuhi (Mwami) Musinga in February 1900 to discuss a number of issues (religion inclusive). After the conversation, the King gave them the Save site (Gisagara District) on which they built their first mission.
In 1917, acting on the request of the colonialists (Germans), King Musinga announced that everyone was free to worship whatever/whoever they wanted albeit against his will. No wonder, according to history, Yuhi Musinga cursed his children who converted to Christianity in 1930.
The following year, the Belgian Vice-Governor Voisin deposed Musinga who was considered hostile to the Catholic Church and forced him to flee to Bukavu in the neighbouring Zaire (currently DR Congo). This earned Rudahigwa, one of the ‘cursed’ sons, a promotion. The colonialists enthroned him as the new king under the name Mutara III Rudahigwa.
Rudahigwa embraced Christianity and was baptised at Kabgayi Diocese in October 1943 together with his mother and wife Rosalie Gicanda by Monsignor Leon Classe. He took on the name Mutara III Rudahigwa Charles Léon Pierre
On October 27, 1946, Rudahigwa dedicated Rwanda to Jesus Christ. In the book “Church and Revolution in Rwanda”, the author quotes the King to have made this prayer: “Lord Jesus, it is you who has made our country. You have given it a long line of kings to govern it in your stead even at a time when they did not know you.”
What it means
Smaragde Mbonyintege, the bishop of Kabgayi Diocese, commended the king for his decision. “We appreciate what he said as a king. We wish we could celebrate it every year but we would be glad if it was initiated by the government.”
The dedication of Rwanda to Christ by the king took place at a church in Nyanza district. And in memory of the king’s gesture, the church built a big monument of Christ at the entrance. King Mutara III Rudahigwa died on July 25, 1959 in Bujumbura-Burundi under mysterious circumstances.