Travellers to Penang in Malaysia should make it a point to visit the well-known St. Anne’s Church. An attractive shrine with an elegant appearance, this place of worship is frequented by devotees as well as sightseers. This renowned Roman Catholic shrine hosts a large congregation and is considered to be noteworthy for the yearly St. Anne’s Festival.
The Feast of St. Anne falls on the 26th of July; however it is celebrated enthusiastically for a period of ten days at the shrine. The fervent celebratory activities include a novena lasting nine days, a candlelit procession and the worship of the Blessed Sacrament. In excess of 100,000 devotees arrive at the shrine for the festival, eager to pay their respects at this venerated place of worship. Devotees converge on the church from across Malaysia, neighbouring nations such as the Philippines, Australia and Singapore and from across the globe. This makes the shrine one of the world’s most revered Roman Catholic churches.
The Church of St. Anne inherits a rich historical and cultural legacy. The first shrine, founded as far back as 1846, was just a chapel located atop the local hillock. With steady growth in the population of Catholics, a new place of worship was constructed and opened to the public in 1888. However in the 1950s the state of Malaya imposed an emergency and the church compound became a prohibited area. After the state of emergency was discontinued the devotees began to return to the church grounds.
However in later years the authorities constructed a new church building a small distance away; this shrine in turn became redundant when the splendid building which stands today was constructed. This expansive building features the capacity to accommodate no less than 2,200 worshippers.
The church compound as it stands today is attractive and looks especially memorable at night, bathed in the light of the moon. Located in a picturesque setting this impressive shrine always captivates the mind of the observer.
Uditha Dharmawardhane is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Roland Lefevre. He specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe.