Monday, May 11, 2009

St. Anne Church (the Old Church) - Bukit Mertajam, Penang

In this post are photographs of the Old St. Anne Church now known at the St Anne Shrine.

The Newest St Anne Church will be cover in a few other later posts.

Location : on the road out of Bukit Mertajam toward Kulim, Kedah

GPS Location: N 05 21 120 , E 100, 28, 641

Fact : The St. Anne Feast of Bukit Mertajam is one of the 20 biggest Catholic pilgrimages in the world, It is one of the Hidden Tourist Treasure of Penang, and also a off the beaten track tourist attraction.

St. Anne, can be considered as, one of the most iconic structure in Penang (religious), however sadly it is overlooked and not even mentioned to tourist in Penang by tourist guides, travel agencies and others due to a few factors, among them

· Its Location on the Mainland, nestled at the foothills of Bukit Mertajam.

· Its distance from the main tourist belts.

· Its is perceive that tourist do not want to visit the mainland

· Its is perceive that there is no other tourist spots in the area.

Now a days you will find the odd, Caucasian tourist (mainly), visiting the church, by taking the taxi or even the bus over from the Island.

Originally a small chapel on a small hilltop, (1840) Built by Catholic French Priest for Chinese and Indian Catholics in the Area, St Anne is now one of the largest church in Malaysia (if not the largest), and tens of thousands of visitors and devotees of various race and religion will visit during the Annual (every july) St Anne Feast to pray for and return ingratitude for prayers answered. (This church will filled up all the hotels on Penang Island on that particular weekend, though not the hotels on the mainland), Today the site of the first church/chapel is the 15th and final station of the Cross (hill) which devotees make in their pilgrimage.

St. Anne is regarded as the mother of Mary, the virgin who gave birth to Jesus Christ. Catholics observe her feast day on 26 July every year. (For the best crowd, visit on or the first Sunday after the 26th of July). St. Anne is believed to have been born around 50BC in either Nazareth or Bethlehem. She is the patroness of cabinet makers and miners, as well as those engaged in the craft of spinning, weaving, embroidery, sewing and other such skills.

As the number of church goers increase, another bigger chapel was built in 1865 at the foot hills of the Original Chapel. The site of this second chapel is just behind the wall of taps of Saint Anne's water. The spring water is naturally filtered by the soil and is cleaner than tap water.

The iconic Old Church was built in 1888, to the front and side of this 2nd chapel, which was then under the Fathership of Fr. F.P. Sorin. He died in 1907, right on the day of the St. Anne Feast, and was buried at the entrance to the Old Church.

This "Old Church", now called the "Shrine of St Anne", is the main focus of the Feast of St Anne every year. Its beautiful stained glass above the altar dates to 1896.

From 1948 in the aftermath of the 2nd World War, the Church was shifted nearer towards Bukit Mertajam due to the communist activities in the surrounding hills. Services was conducted at the Convent (Bukit Mertajam Convent School?) and in 1957, Father Thomas Chin had a church build near the Kin Sen School. It was only in 1977, that the old church was revived by Father Peter Pang.

Note: Not one of my better effort in Photography, don't seem to be able to focus and get the vertical line properly on that day

Source, Personal Visit, and Internet mainly from

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