Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sanctuary of St Anne in Bukit Mertajam

I was in Bukit Mertajam in Penang on Thursday – and it was the perfect time to be there because of St Anne's Festival. 

It’s a 10-day (July 19-28) celebration of St Anne, the patron saint of mothers and minors and incorporates prayer rituals and a 3 kilometre long candlelit procession before mass on the feast day itself, July 26th. The procession includes a float bearing the statues of St Anne and her daughter, the Virgin Mary. 

[Note: Although St. Anne is not mentioned in the scriptures – the Catholic church has acknowledged her as the wife of St. Joachim and mother of Mary]. 

The festival is unique not only in its size but also its length – very few events in the Catholic calendar are celebrated over multiple days. 

I was there for a couple of hours only and I captured these photos of the Sanctuary of St Anne:

I have read that the origins of St. Anne's Sanctuary can actually be traced back as early as 1833, when Chinese and Indian migrant workers first came to the area – although I could not locate more information on it. 

Anyway, the earliest records of Church of St. Anne parish are said to have started in 1846 – and the first chapel was built on top of the hill. As the Catholic population grew, a new church was built and opened in 1888. This is the church which is now called St. Anne’s Shrine. (Photo above: The white church on the hill). 

In 2002, another new church that could accommodate 2,200 worshipers was built. It had an interesting architectural approach, with Minangkabau-styled roofs and walls and columns built in the style of the old churches and monastaries of Rome:

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