a Sacred Place for Catholics
Sarang is a small remote village on the slope of Mount Klothok, East
Java, which is seldom mentioned in guidebooks. It is becoming increasingly
popular among local Catholics as a sacred place.On the eve of every
Friday Legi (a day which comes once a month on the Javanese calendar),
thousands of Catholics flock to Poh Sarang Church.
They gather there on Thursday evening so they can avoid the heavy
traffic on the road leading to the church. The road winds steadily
upward for three kilometers, and it will become crowded with cars
before dark comes.
There Catholics will jointly recite the Holy Rosary prayer, which
is followed by a holy mass called Misa Tirakatan (i.e. doing something
ascetic, such as fasting) at a grotto which the Virgin Mary (Gua Maria)
Beside the altar on which the holy mass is celebrated, there is a
tank of holy water, obtained from a local well. Visitors wishing to
use the holy water for their prayers can easily get it from the taps
available within the complex.
The water is potable and is believed to be sterile."We have placed
a special open tank here for the water, which is just like bottled
Aqua and is safe to drink", said Bernard, one of those involved
in the construction.
grotto with Mary standing in it, is in this small village. The grotto
resembles the same Mary's grotto in Lourdes, France. This particular
place of pilgrimage has the same shape and model to the one in Lourdes.
The hill and the grotto and particularly the statue of the Virgin
Mary are extraordinarily big empared to the Gua Maria of Sendang Sono
The Pohsarang grotto is believed to be one of the largest in Asia.This
bulding,located five kilometers west of Kediri,was blessed by Monsignor
(Mgr) J. Hadiwikarta, Pr, the Bishop of Surabaya, in May 1999.
Although the grotto has not been properly furnished, it has been busy
since it was officially opened for the pilgrimage last year, especially
in May when Catholics took part in the Tirakatan midnight holy mass.
Last May an estimated 7,000 people attended the mass.
For the Way of the Cross prayer, a special place has been built, complete
with all the 14 statues of the Way of the Cross depicting the misery
of Jesus Christ when he carried the wooden cross while climbing Golgotha
hill. Each of the statues is almost the size of a man. They were made
to resemble the statutes of the Way of the Cross in the grotto Lourdes,
Pohsarang is part of the history of the early propagation of Catholicism
in East Java. In the 1930s, several citizens of Pohsarang began to
learn about Catholicism from some priests from the missionary congregation.
In 1936, a Catholic church was built there.
It took several years to build Puh Sarang Church, which is unique
in its shape. The architecture is a combination of Javanese and Hindu
tradition. The Majapahit architecture is evident in the church's entrance
gate, bell tower and interior.
statues belonging to the Church, like those of Jesus and the Virgin
Mary, have adopted the model and shapes of Javanese and Hindu statues
found in some temples. The faces of Jesus and Mary were carved on
the temple stones in a typical Javanese motif so that they do not
look European, such as the depictions we find in the many churches
in Indonesia. They look like a typical Javanese man and woman.
The roof resembles the shape of Noah's ark. The roof has been renovated
four times, with the last time in 1999 when a new steel frame was
installed and the tiles were replaced.
The architect who built Puh Sarang Church in 1936 was Ir. Maclaine
Pont, a Dutchman who had done research on the remains of the Majapahit
Palace. His love for the Javanese culture had led him to build a church
which had Javanese architecture.