Over 30,000 attend St Anne’s Fest celebrations in Penang

BUKIT MERTAJAM: About 30,000 pilgrims, including foreigners, thronged the grounds of St Anne’s Church here on Saturday (July 30) in conjunction with the annual St Anne’s Feast.

The highlight of the festival was a 6.5km-long grand procession of beautifully decorated floats bearing the statues of St Anne and her daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Before the procession started, the church’s bells rang slowly for about one minute after the statue of St Anne was brought to the church foyer and placed on a float decked with flowers and lights.

Church deacon Rev Lazarus Anthony Jonathan said the procession commenced at 8.15pm after mass ended around 10.30pm.

“Despite the drizzle which started at about 9pm and lasted till the end, the crowd stayed and followed the procession while holding candles,” he said.

Heading the main procession group were a cross-bearer, a group of altar boys carrying candles, as well as flag bearers and flower girls sprinkling flower petals on the ground.

At the old St Anne’s church, now known as the Shrine of St Anne, pilgrims offered candles, flowers, flower garlands and prayers to St Anne.

The festival also saw many stalls set up around the church and along the streets, enjoying brisk business. Pilgrims were seen buying candles and fresh flowers.

Rev Lazarus thanked the police for their excellent job ensuring smooth celebration without any untoward incidents.

He said more than 100,000 pilgrims including foreigners from Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Australia converged at the church in Jalan Kulim here for the 10-day feast themed “Salt of the Earth & Light of the World”.

The feast is celebrated by Catholics to honour Jesus Christ’s grandmother, St Anne.

Pilgrims enjoyed free meals provided by the church throughout the event.