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Friday, April 18, 2008

An afternoon with St. Anne

On Thursday afternoon, my room-mate brought me across the Penang Bridge on his motorcycle to the famed St. Anne’s Sanctuary which lies in the sleepy town of Bukit Mertajam, Seberang Perai (formerly known as Province Wellesley under British colonial rule), Penang. Initially, I was a lil’ bit apprehended since I’ve never been on a motorcycle for nearly half a decade. Thank goodness I grew more and more comfortable as we moved along the way. Within half an hour, I finally caught a glimpse of the legendary place where news reports of it filled pages during the annual Feast of St. Anne on July 26th.

Although Malaysia is officially a Muslim country, it’s always surprising to see non-Muslim places of worship being scattered throughout the country, despite certain limitations on their construction since independence. And with us here now is a holy sanctuary hailed to be 1 of the 20 most important Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world, joining the ranks of Jerusalem, Rome, Lourdes, and Fátima!

The shrine from afar; the church altar

This Catholic sanctuary is dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary, and hence the maternal grandmother of Jesus Christ. The old church (now known as St. Anne’s Shrine) was built in 1888 by the French missionary as they were the 1st to arrive in the region. The sanctuary was named after St. Anne, who's a very popular patron saint amongst the French. Before the construction of the 1st church, 2 chapels were built on the sanctuary grounds and the remains could still be found there.

The new church

The church's interior

The latest addition to the sanctuary was a recently erected church featuring a multi-tiered Minangkabau roof and a European-inspired bell tower built attached to it. The church was consecrated on the 2002 St. Anne's Feast by the then Apostolic Delegate to Malaysia, the Most Reverend Adriano Bernardini.

Not only that, the beautiful Dataran St. Anne (St. Anne's Square) was also installed in front of the new church. In order to accommodate pilgrims who flock there for the annual feast day, the Domus St. Anne was constructed for those who intend to stay over.

Scenes from the Stations of the Cross

It was not long when dark clouds started to loom on the horizon. I quickened my pace and snapped pictures around the sanctuary before the rain poured down without me knowing it.

Does this remind you of Michelangelo's masterpiece in St. Peter's Basilica?

St. Anne's Water; grotto on St. Anne's Hill

Before we left, I bought this official Vatican guide for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 from the gift shop built adjacent to the Shrine of St. Anne.

¤ ¤ ¤

Took this photo right after we finished our final papers for this semester…

Addendum @ 6:26AM (April 20th): Oh my... I heart so much! The wallpapers there are just perfect for blog headers. There you have it! I just gave my blog a minor facelift. :)


L B said...

Pretty good pictures.. I never knew who was Mary's mother until now!

Jemima said...

Thanks for sharing.
I've always wanted to make a pilgrimage there.
Maybe soon...

HAppy weekend! :)

kyh said...

L B: 5 chups!

Now you know! :P

Jemima: 3 chups!

You're a Catholic? It's a great place to be. Very serene and tranquil. :)

Happy weekend too!

Chev said...

interesting post with nice pict. U can bcome journalist liao :)

angeles said...

saw the pieta as if he duduk terkangkang liddat.. i jz woke up maa .. :p

syiok la finish exam liao... enjoy!!

oh, i hv nvr stepped foot inside the church.. the nearest was oni the seafood restaurant right across the church!! that was last year! my cuzzie's wedding.

Zhu said...

Funny it's written 堂主天 in Chinese. I know you explained me the many languages in your country, but I'm always surprised to be able to read Chinese in Malaysian!

Very nice church. Looks fun, a bit lost in a tropical vegetation, I'm not used to this kind of setting!

I still remember when you talked to me about Malaysia and religion... I'm glad I have the background now!

day-dreamer said...

I've always heard about St. Anne but never been there before.

mistipurple said...

i have corresponded with a sister (nun) there yearsss ago. beautiful pics. thanks for posting them. :)

Linda said...

Very interesting. I had no idea it was there. There is a door in Notre Dame devoted to St Anne. I don't know anything about her but I guess she was a very important saint 1000 years ago.

kyh said...

Chev: 1 chup!

Wah... I'm such a lousy journalist! 不敢当!

angeles: The sitting one is the Virgin Mary. ;)

Can't enjoy much. Have to return to campus for the preparation of an architecture programme. :(

The sanctuary is kinda extraordinary among Malaysian churches. You should pay there a visit someday.

Zhu: Haha... It should be read from right to left, hence 天主堂! :P

Oh yes, definitely weird-looking in the eyes of Europeans and North Americans! Guess you guys are too used to temperate settings! :D

I'm glad you remember about the short lesson too! ;)

day-dreamer: Make a trip there then! It's very nice. ;)

mistipurple: You've been there?

Glad that you enjoy the pics!

Linda: I wish I could visit Notre Dame! Very impressive Gothic architecture, and yes, Quasimodo! :D

RennyBA said...

What a great place and wonderful architecture - thanks for sharing.

The church reminds me a bit of one in Norway - the Arctic cathedral:

kyh said...

You're welcome! ;)

And hey, that's a great church! Love the simplistic architecture. :)

Andie Summerkiss said...

Great post on St. Anne. I have been to Penang numerous times. Didn't know there's a shrine for St. Anne. That is not very common outside Europe.

Time to relax now after exam huh? Party timee!!

kyh said...

St. Anne's Sanctuary is not on Penang island, but rather on the mainland part of Penang (Seberang Perai) that lies just across the strait. :)

Oh yeah, party time! :D

Ångele said...

The pics are very nice =)

Oh my dear. I didn't even know St.Anne was virgin Mary's mother until you mentioned it.
And I'm a catholic! Shame on me!!!

kyh said...

Thanks! :D

Haha... Now you know! ;)

Doreen said...

Nice place it is! Seems very peaceful...

Anonymous said...

That is so beautiful, this place... for worship and quiet, reflective thoughts. :)

Thanks for sharing, you have a blessed weekend!

kyh said...

Doreen: It sure is. :)

kennymah: Yeah... Very serene and peaceful, especially it's not that touristy on normal days.

claudie said...

I'm very impresse by all this religious architecture in honor of St Anne. It is beautiful. And the statues wich represent "the passion of the Christ", really nice. I'm so glad always learning about your land when I visit you.
have a nice sunday Kyh!

kyh said...

Yes, they are indeed beautiful. But I'm sure France has much more to offer, especially those historical and monumental ones. And I'm glad you love my blog entries! :D

Have a nice Sunday too! :)

eastcoastlife said...

macam Europe! In Penang? Must do some exploring next time.

kyh said...

Indeed! Yeap... In Penang, but not on the island though. :P

Yinsi Yat said...

Did you step into the "chatter box" and told father about who you did last summer? Faster tell!!! kekeke

kyh said...

Father was not available on that day. Haha!

C K said...

Didn't realised that Penang has got such sites as well... went there more for the food actually... :P

kyh said...

Can't blame you, since most tourists flock to Penang for the food!

And oh... This sanctuary is located on the other side of Penang (on the mainland), so not many people know about the place, except for Catholics.

giddy tigress said...

Gorgeous pictures! Almost makes me wanna go there myself!

My Castle in Spain said...

Hi Kyh!
Nice to meet you...and see your part of the world.
These stations of the cross are quite impressive, aren't they?

I'm glad you're interested in Andalusian Moorish legacy.It is indeed an interesting part of Spanish history. I like to believe that Muslims, Jews and Catholics lived peacefully together until Queen Isabel chased the Arabs away but historical facts seem to deny it...

You too have a great tuesday !

ps: your banner is fab...
and also thanks very much for adding me to your list. :-)
what's your major by the way ?

kyh said...

giddy tigress: You haven't been there? Then you must do it! Since you're living in Penang, it's a place not to be missed. ;)

My Castle in Spain: Hello! *waves madly*

Definitely! But in my opinion, Europe has much more gorgeous ones to offer.

Spain has always been a place I long to visit, especially the southern part of the country where centuries-old Moorish and Catholic influences continuously shape the cultural landscape. And not forgetting the magnificent Alhambra!

I really have to give credits to the marvellous for making my blog to appear that way. :)

And oh, I'm majoring in architecture, hence my tremendous passion for all beautiful structures. ;)

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Oh what a delight finding your blog is! Very nice photos; what an interesting place. I especially like the grotto...because grottos are one of my favourite things....

You are at the other end of the world from me; its very fascinating for me, coming across this site.

Thank you.

Lavinia Ladyslipper

kyh said...

Oh wow, another new visitor here! *brings welcome drink*

Thanks for your compliment. Glad you find them interesting. :)

I'm quite sure you're familiar with sites like this, even though you're thousands of miles away from where I am. ;)