The earliest records of the parish were that of baptisms in 1846, making it the year the parish was officially established. Consequently, from 1860 onwards, visiting priests came from Permatang Tinggi. With the increase in the Catholic population, a bigger chapel was built in 1865 by Fr. Maistre MEP. The foundation stones of this second chapel can be found behind St. Anne's Water Font.
Four years later, Fr. Allard MEP was assigned to the parish and became its first resident parish priest. In 1883, Fr. F. P. Sorin MEP took over the parish and served for 15 years. It was Fr. Sorin who built a bigger church in 1888 for the locals as the Catholic population increased. Today, this same church still stands and has become the revered Shrine of St. Anne (Now it is called "Shrine of Harmony". It was also fondly called the “Old Church” by local parishioners. Incidentally, Fr. Sorin passed away on the feast of St. Anne, 26th July 1907 and he was buried in the main aisle of the church that he built.
The foundation stones of the second chapel are a valuable historical artifact that provide a glimpse into the early days of the Catholic Church in Bukit Mertajam. They are a reminder of the faith and dedication of the early Catholic settlers in the area, and they are a testament to the growth of the Catholic community over the years.
Shrine of Harmony
(formerly called Shrine of St. Anne)
The Shrine of Harmony, nestled within the Minor Basilica of St. Anne, stands as a beacon of hope, unity, and faith. Located in Southeast Asia, this sacred shrine is not just a place of worship but a testament to the harmonious coexistence of different faiths and nationalities, all brought together under the benevolent gaze of Saint Anne.
Before delving into the significance of the Shrine of Harmony, it is essential to understand the figure that inspires such devout reverence - Saint Anne. In Christian tradition, Saint Anne is venerated as the mother of the Virgin Mary, making her the grandmother of Jesus Christ. Her name, Anne, derives from the Hebrew name Hannah, which means 'grace'. She is often invoked as the patroness of childless couples, pregnant women, and miners, symbolizing hope and perseverance.
The Minor Basilica of St. Anne, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, was elevated to its current status on 5th September 2019. This elevation intensified the bond with the Church of Rome and the Pope, affectionately known to the Catholic Church as the Holy Father. The Shrine of Harmony, housed within this basilica, has been a significant part of this spiritual journey.
Over the years, the Shrine of Harmony has been the site of numerous miracles, further cementing its place in the hearts of the faithful. Stories abound of childless couples conceiving after praying at the shrine, of incurable illnesses being miraculously healed, and of lost souls finding their way back to faith. Each story is a testament to the power of faith and the intercession of Saint Anne.
The shrine's impact transcends the physical realm. It has become a spiritual haven for those seeking solace, hope, and guidance. It is a place where differences are set aside, and unity is embraced, embodying the true essence of harmony.
In conclusion, the Shrine of Harmony is more than just a place of worship. It is a symbol of unity, a testament to the power of faith, and a beacon of hope for all who visit. It is a place where miracles happen, and lives are transformed through the intercession of Saint Anne. It is a testament to the harmonious coexistence of different faiths and nationalities under the benevolent gaze of Saint Anne.