July 31, 2010

St Anne's feast

Saint Anne was the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ. Saint Anne may be recognised by her depiction of holding Mary who in turn holds an infant Christ.

Every year thousands of people will celebrate Saint Anne's feast day. In Malaysia, people will travel all the way to Bukit Mertajam to visit the St.Anne's church to celebrate the feast day. It always falls at the end of July every year.

I, on the other hand, usually celebrate Saint Anne's feast at the church in Port Klang. This year is no different. Boy, were there hundreds of people in a rather small church. It overflowed with Catholics and non-Catholics from all over places. There were too many of us that many had to stand even outside of the church. Luckily, there's projections and loud speaker. Even the hall was full!! It was fully packed and hawkers took advantage to sell their tidbits and many other stuffs to the people to earn some extra money.

It was a normal mass only that it was a feast day. It was 2 and a half hours long. After that there was procession but my family didn't join in. It was just too crowded! People flock the church every year to have their prayers answered or to thank St.Anne for their answered prayers. It is like the Catholic version of Thaipusam or something like that.

This is the story on how St Anne became a important feast day:

In Scranton, a church named after St.Anne was built. Six years passed, when on the morning of August 15, 1911 the people suddenly noticed signs of serious disturbance underneath the property caused by subsidence of the underlying coal mines. A huge slide seriously damaged the entire building. The disastrous movement continued for a week and the residents had to be evacuated. Experts feared the total destruction of Saint Anne's. The conviction grew that nothing but the special protection of "good Saint Anne" could save the building. The Fathers replied: "Saint Anne will take care of her own". Engineers inspected the situation and reported that the subsidence was over and everything secure and safe.

Less than 2 years later, and two days after the feast of Saint Anne, on July 28th 1913, came another scare. A mining expert called the residents saying the worst squeeze known in local mining history had just taken place and that it was not safe for anyone to stay in the building. A great slide was carrying the entire area to the east. The whole hill was going and nothing on earth could save the church. It was doomed to collapse. The next morning mining experts were shocked to discover that the mighty slide had suddenly stopped, turned back, and actually settled solidly directly under the monastery. The great fissures were closed by the impact of the slide which actually saved Saint Anne's church. One expert said it was a miracle: "The Lord Almighty through the prayer of Saint Anne had done more that night for the residence than all the engineers in the world could ever do!"

A generous group of citizens got together to help repair Saint Anne's which was rededicated on Sunday July, 22, 1916, in a magnificent citywide outdoor celebration on the grounds. Father Nicholas Ward, was an intelligent, holy priest with an exceptional devotion to Saint Anne. Often he predicted that Saint Anne's monastery would in time be a place of public pilgrimage to which people would flock. He died at Saint Anne's church in 1922. After his death, devotion to Saint Anne greatly increased.

On Nov 3, 1924 the first public devotions in honour of Saint Anne were begun in the little chapel on the first floor of the church. Week after week larger congregations came to the services. By the spring of 1925 novena devotions had to be held outdoors in a tent.

The history of the church and novena shows that the hand of God has made Saint Anne's a holy place where prayers are heard and answered. During that very first year, novena advocates wrote close to four thousand letters of thanksgiving for favors granted by the prayers of Saint Anne.

Good St. Anne, you were especially favored by God to be the mother of the most holy Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Savior. By your power with your most pure daughter and with her divine Son, kindly obtain for us the grace and the favor we now seek. Please secure for us also forgiveness of our past sins, the strength to perform faithfully our daily duties and the help we need to persevere in the love of Jesus and Mary. Amen.

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