|On top of the hill where the old chapel was|
St. Anne's Feast Day is celebrated on 26 July annually. It is months away but I feel a halo on my head and walk on air as I think about making another trip down with my besties - that's how much I look forward to it. There is a sense of peace I cannot explain.
The celebration runs for ten days in the Church of St. Anne, Bukit Mertajam.
Thousands of pilgrims flock to the church during this period, some praying for divine intervention for the ill, some to give thanks, some for the Holy Water to repel evil ....whatever it is, they were all there in worship of the Lord. I was no different.
Here are some photos I took of this beautiful place and I hope it is enough to convey the lovely experience I had.
We arrived early evening. The crowd was already there. The road leading to the church was lined with rows of tented stalls, much like how a night market would be. We had debated on whether we should bring our own candles but realised we didn't have to because it was being sold everywhere and not at extreme prices.
|A festive atmosphere outside the church|
|Lots of candles being sold.|
Here we are at the church grounds (Photo below). It was..I am lost for words ..it was magnificent. The church was already full when we arrived. Service commenced with the use of loudspeakers so that those outside could hear the sermon as well.
|Church of St. Anne, Bukit Mertajam|
On my walkabout, I saw various sculptures around the grounds. There was a fountain around in the middle of St. Anne Square. Then, there were these "Statues of Passion" located in many places, each depicting a Station of the Cross. I understand that it cost them RM600k to build and erect these.
|St. Anne Square|
|Stations of the Cross : Station 2 (I am made to carry my cross)|
|Stations of the Cross : Station 13 (I am taken down from the cross)|
I came across a souvenir shop. No guesses how crowded it was in there! And in humid weather, all smell also ada-lah (All kinds of smell wafting in there).
|The congested souvenir shop|
The below used to be the old church. It is now known as St. Anne's shrine. There was a long queue of people going in there, some holding the modest short candle, others holding a thin long one tied to a wooden pole.
|St. Anne's Shrine|
Next to the shrine were rows of taps where people could fill their bottles with Holy Water. At the encouragement of my bestie, I climbed the hill which was located just beside. It did look intimidating at first but she said, "Don't look ahead to see how far you have to go. We'll take it one step at a time."
I'm glad I did. Along the walk up, there was a reminder of the Ten Commandments carved on stone. The path was lined with crosses, representing the Way of the Cross.
At the very top, you'll find a model of Jesus on the cross and the grotto of Mother Mary. I also understand that this was where the first chapel was built but there is now nothing more than a slab of rock left behind. There was nothing to indicate how it could have even looked like.
Having said our prayers, we huffed and puffed down the stairs - for a moment, I wished we were Jack and Jill tumbling down the hill. She would have laughed if I told her but I didn't want to break her moment of solemnity.
We left after that and headed back to Penang island for dinner. That's another adventure I'll never forget.