Last Saturday, about 2 days past the St Anne’s Feast Day, I went to the famous St Anne’s Church (pilgrimage) in Bukit Mertajam, Kedah in Malaysia.
For your information, Kedah is a small homely state located on the northern west side of Peninsular Malaysia and is well known as the Rice Bowl of Malaysia
Being one of the rural states in the country, the main source of income here is mainly from agriculture and thus, along the way, you can experience scenic views of countryside and green paddy and plantation fields
Bukit Mertajam just happens to be one of the small towns located in this state
This town boasts of a majority population of Chinese and in fact, the Chinese refer to the place as the Big Foot Hill; directly translated as "Tua Sua Ka" in Hokkien, or "Ta San Jiao" in Mandarin
The existence of the St Anne’s Church was one of the main factor which boosted the popularity of this small town, hidden in the state of Kedah
I myself am not particularly familiar with this place but I am also here on the same purpose as most of the tourists; to visit the St Anne’s Church and to pay homage to the Saint on her Feast Day
I reached the Church’s premises at about 5.40a.m. and this year, perhaps it was after the Feast Day (actual date), the crowd has somehow subsided
The Church from the main entrance
This is the old Church which dates back to more than centuries.In fact, one of the early founders of this church; a reverend father himself was buried right at the front of the church
Over the 10 days observation and celebration of the St Anne’s feast, the candles here were always lighted and the gates were always open to welcome devotees and tourists alike to the church
A view of the hall in the old church
Statue of St Anne…
One may wonder at the popularity of St Anne as a figure in the Catholic faith and also the fuss about the Feast Day of this widely acclaimed saint. A bit of history on the Saint; she was the Mother of our Holy Mother Mary and she was canonized as a Saint to honour her motherly figure of our Lady. In fact, the Feast of St Anne was not as popular in the West as compared to the East; or particularly in the South East Asia region. I have blogged about St Anne’s story in my mystic blog
However, there is a reason behind the popularity of this Saint here and particularly this church in a small town in the northern region of Malaysia. The motherly saint was once reported to have appeared at the top of the St Anne’s Hill situated behind this church and since then, devotees and even those of other religions (other than Catholics) have made their way to the church yearly to make their prayers through the Saint. At the same time, there were also reports that wishes and prayers made through the motherly saint especially in this church will usually be answered; thus making it one of the most famous churches in Malaysia.
Some even rumoured that those who were unable to bear children can come and offer their prayers and will have them answered. I am not sure how true this is and I am putting a disclaimer that I only know about this through common hearsay and also old wives’ tales. But I will only say that I myself am in awe of the motherly figure of St Anne; I have always been amazed by the sacrifices and love by all mothers and thus, I truly can see the greatness in the Mother of our Holy Lady, Mother of Jesus
The famous St Anne Statue
Faithful devotees adorning the Holy Mother with flowers
Above: Father Joseph; husband of Mother Mary and also the parent who fathered our Lord Jesus Christ through the wishes of God, the father of Jesus.
Due to security reasons, the altar was a prohibited section to visitors and they took turns guarding the altar
A view of the interior of the church; benches were pushed away for a wider space within the hall
Devotees entering the hall and lighting candles to offer their prayers through the Holy Saint.
** Take note that Catholics do not pray to Saints, we pray through Saints for them to make intercessory prayers for us**
One of the stations of the cross located near the entrance of the church hall
Devotees making their way to the church
Side view of the church which had bright lights on the walls
The directions board at the beginning of the famous St Anne’s Hill
The fleet of staircase leading to the hill; where St Anne was reportedly sighted.
The hill was not too high and the well constructed steps made it easier for people to hike up to the hill and offer their prayers at each stop; whereby there is a holy figure for worship.
At the first stop; the St Anne’s grotto….this is the lowest peak for anyone to pray through the Saint.
The figure of St Anne
The candles were so brightly lit and heads were bowed solemnly; uttering their words of prayers from their hearts
Hiking on the way after the first grotto stop
A shot of the devotees at the grotto from the stairs
The shrine at the peak of the hill
It was not too high up but the first grotto (in my humble opinion) was built for parishioners/devotees who may not be physically fit/ablt to make it to the top
The motherly saint at the top; with a bright glow of light around her
Brightly lit candles
Descending from the topmost shrine, one will pass by this spot which was not too far off from the shrine; the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
I don’t know about most of you; but this location somehow resembles that of what is written in the Bible; the Mt Calvary on which our Lord was crucified
It was place of solemnity and observation to pay respects to the Lord
Candles were lighted everywhere; to offer their prayers to the Lord and through the Saints
Me at the grotto; after my prayers
Descending the hill after the pilgrimage
Prayed for health, peace and happiness of everyone
At the foot of the hill and behind the church, this is the place for the Holy Water
There’s even ongoing sales of the holy water in packaged bottles in the shape of the holy St Anne’s Figure
Actually, it wasn’t mentioned that this water from the tap was the holy water; as it was only mentioned that it was the water from the hill but since this is a sacred place and the strong faith, it is the holy water for all
I also got myself 2 bottles of the holy water
Another of the Station of the Cross (I took pics of all the station last year; will post them up pretty soon
A pic of the grand old church…the traditional Church-like structure which I really like
More people coming in..and there’s tour buses from various churches around Malaysia and some even from other countries..on their pilgrimage to St Anne’s Church
Will be back next year for the Feast