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St Anne Church

Beautifully blend Caribbean style landscape with Gothic architecture in Bukit Mertajam

St Anne Church in Bukit Mertajam. What a refreshing sight awaits you when you visit the beautiful lush twenty acre church.

The Shrine, the new church started construction in May 2000. The dedication of the new Church was held on the 26th July 2002.

The multi-tiered Minangkabau roofs, Gothic arches, mosaic murals and statues adorn the surrounding of the new Shrine.

The whole setting makes me feel as if I am in the Caribbean, minus the sea. Awe struck and mind in total serenity, I wondered this place of worship.

I circled the Shrine looking at the intricate mosaic murals of Christ, with Mary and the disciples.

A Carribbean Gothic style setting for St Anne Church BM

The murals depicting his childhood till his last days in beautiful mosaic tiles on all four entrances of the new St Anne Church. The roofs have a unique colored clay roof tiles.

Inside the Shrine of St Ann Church BM

The fountain with a statue of Christ with his mother, a porch and open air corridors greets you as you approached the Church.

The setting inside the Church is so impressive. Light shines from top, to the insides of the whole church.

A precious object in the form of a bone fragment of St. Anne was displayed in the church. The tiny fragment measuring about 3mm is house within a golden monstrance placed near the altar.St Anne Church

Pilgrims old and new will always make an effort to catch a glimpse of this relic, surely one of the most holiest to be found in the Catholic faith.

With a seating capacity of 1800, the church functions as a comprehensive unit containing the church proper, an activity centre and the parish house.

There is definitely enough place for prayers during St Anne's Feast where the crowd is massive every year.

Station of the Cross in St Anne Church BM

For me to really absorb the ambience of the St Anne Church, new or old, the best time to visit is not the peak season of St Anne Feast. I am awe inspired with the efforts put in by several of the Christian fathers in cloak.

The Stations of the Cross

Station of the Cross pathway in St Anne Church BM

Outside the new church ground is just as spectacular. For the old and the age pilgrims who can not walked up to the top where the 15th station is stationed, life size replica of the biblical tabernacle has been constructed surrounding the church round.

While no original materials (e.g., gold, silver, bronze) have been used, the station of the cross is accurate in every other way based upon the biblical description.

In the Roman Catholic faith, the 15 Stations of the Cross depict segments in history beginning at the time when Jesus is condemned to die at the hands of Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Judea at the time of Christ, and ending with Jesus' glorious resurrection.St Anne Church

Jesus on the 15th Station Cross in St Anne Church BM

Some key stations included Jesus taking his cross, Jesus meets his grieving mother, Simon helps Jesus carry his cross, Veronica wipes the face of Jesus, Jesus falling three times, Jesus is nailed to the cross and Jesus is laid in a tomb.

An emotional connection to what happened so long ago is to actually see it played out before you, which has a more profound effect than merely reading about it or seeing it in a movie.St Anne Church

Accordingly, as you walk up the steps to the view the first chapel built in 1846 by the first French priest, Fr. Adolphe Couellan, one can't helped but feel that we were transported back in time to partake in the scene as they unfolded.

I got very emotional and had tear-stained cheek during the stations when Jesus meets his mother and when Jesus was buried. Everything was well done.

St. Anne was (and still is) a very popular patron saint amongst the French. Naturally, the chapel was named after her. Two more priest after Fr Coullan came and another chapel was built.

The Treasures from late 19th Century

The installed 19th century stain glass in St Anne Church BM

The Recovered 19th Century Bell in St Anne Church BM

It was only in 1888 that Father Sorin built the first church after staying here for 12 years. Fr. F.P. Sorin died on 26th July (St. Anne's Feast Day), 1907, in Teluk Wang.

But he was buried at the entrance of St. Anne's old church. Read about the history of St Ann Church, Bukit Mertajam here.

Some reminders of the old 1896 Church can be seen, the burial ground of FR F.P. Sorin at the entrance of the old St Ann Church. Also a very old beautiful stained glass featuring St Anne is seen above the altar.

I was so glad it was not destroyed or torn down during the war. We climbed up to the top of the old church to see the only bell recovered after WW2. Still intact and solid looking with inscription dated 1896.

Father FP Sorin burial ground in St Anne Church, Bukit Mertajam

In 1914, the church was assigned its very first local priest Fr. Michael Seet. It was during his tenure when the Feast of St. Anne grew in popularity with vows been fulfilled and miracles performed.St Anne Church

The St Anne Feast

Through the years, this event attracted the attention of people far and wide. Thus, a tradition that survives even to this day was born.

This led to the Feast Day of St. Anne becoming the occasion for a major annual pilgrimage in which thousands take part from all over the region and even from as far away as Australia.

Today, the Feast of St. Anne held towards the end of July is a nine-day affair, the climax of which comes at the end with a spectacular candlelight procession.

Who is St Anne?

St Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin, was the grandmother of Jesus. In popular Catholic tradition she has been revered as the "Grandmother of God" and therefore has a place next to Mary as the most venerated saint in Catholic history.

She has been known as an intercessor of healing in particular. She has also been known as an intercessor for the poor, for marriages and for family.

Her feast is July 26 and in the modern calendar it is celebrated as the feast of Saints Ann and Joachim, her husband.

Drinking the Blessed Water

Water Front of St Anne Church

This brings back memories of my first visit to St Ann Church 30 years ago. We came from Penang with 10 bikers on the ferry. An hour queue to get into the ferry to cross over.St Anne Church

And that is not all, the traffic jam and choc bloc on the way from ferry terminal to the St Ann Church was most memorable. We even had to packed the bikes a mile away from the church as the pilgrims were walking to the church in all directions.

We soon join the pilgrims as we thronged the hill tops to placed our candles. Hands clasp in lighted candles following the procession.

In the old days, there was no control where you placed your lighted candles. So most of us stuck in every part of the hill.

We even bought bottles and plastic bags to save the blessed water home for our love ones. With all the new attraction on the new Shrine, the old church has no lost its charm.

Some links for you to browse through but remember I am not a Christian but all religions in Malaysia are well respected and whenever we and allowed, we participate happily. Talk soon!St Anne Church

St Anne Church Bukit Mertajam

By the way, an important relic stood within the compound of the church, walking to the Domus, you will find Cheruk Tokun Relic, a 5th century old megalith in Penang.

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