Record crowd to attend feast day

Star of the show: Volunteers preparing the feast day float bearing the statues of St Anne and the Virgin Mary at the Minor Basilica of St Anne in Bukit Mertajam. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

St Anne’s church to host landmark celebration as a minor basilica

BUKIT MERTAJAM: The Minor Basilica of St Anne is all set to welcome an expected 100,000 pilgrims to a landmark feast day celebration.

This year marks the first feast day that the church celebrates as a minor basilica – the only one in the country – after receiving the official designation from Rome on Jan 9.

Under the theme “Salt of the Earth, Light of the World”, St Anne’s feast day will be commemorated here from today until July 30 in the establishment’s traditional 10-day celebration.

Minor basilicas are chosen as churches of historical and architectural value, and this title has also been bestowed upon important pilgrimage churches.

Deacon Lazarus Jonathan said the Holy See, Pope Francis, had bestowed the title of minor basilica on the Church of St Anne in 2019, but Covid-19 restrictions had delayed the official declaration until this year.

“Preparations (for the feast day) started on July 1 and different ministries are preparing for the 10-day celebration.

“A total of 1,560 registered volunteers are helping in various ministries, such as the mass liturgy, firefighting, the medical team, multimedia, meals for pilgrims, and others.

“We expect about 100,000 people, mostly from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and other nearby countries to visit the Minor Basilica of St Anne throughout these 10 days,” he said.

Free meals will be served to all visitors three times a day during this period.

The highlight of the celebration will be on July 29 with a multilingual open-air mass at 7pm, followed by a 1.3km procession that loops around Jalan Berjaya.

A spiritual concert by parish youth is scheduled after the procession at the Green Hall of the Minor Basilica starting at approximately 10pm.

Deacon Lazarus said the theme of the celebration was chosen to remind and invite all Christians to emulate Jesus Christ in thought and deed.

Religion or religious practices must unite the people, and not divide, he added.

“Mutual respect should always be prevalent in today’s circumstances, and it is wonderful to see people of diverse beliefs gathering and through this feast, showing respect for each other’s beliefs,” he said.

St Anne is regarded as the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ, and Catholics observe her feast day on July 26 every year.

This year, the Church of St Anne will have activities revolving around devotions and prayers for unity, grandparents, the elderly, neighbours, youth, and people living on the margins of society.

Novena and mass schedules for the celebration at St Anne’s can be found at

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