For Christians around the world, the Feast of the Ascension which begins on the afternoon of May 8th, 2013 and continues through May 9th, is known as the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, and si a great feast that marks the bodily Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
“[…] Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.” (Acts 1:1)
The feast is traditionally celebrated on a Thursday, the fortieth day after Easter. “After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3-4)
The Ascension of the Lord occurred in Jerusalem
Video courtesy AllaboutJerusalem, Narrated by Elisa Moed for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours
According to the Book of Acts, the Ascension took place on the Mount of Olives, next to Jerusalem. “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives […] (Acts 1:11-12)” It was after this that the site was then called the Mount of Ascension.
Photo courtesy Travelujah-Holy Land Tours
The early Christians of the Holy Land, prior to the conversion of Emperor Constantine in 312 AD, honored the Ascension of Christ in a cave on the Mount of Olives. By 384, the site of worship was moved to the present location, uphill from the cave. The first church on that site was built around the year 390 AD and its construction was financed by Poimenia, a wealthy and pious Roman aristocrat.
Place of the ascension inside the Chapel of th Ascension, photo courtesy Travelujah
Nowadays, the place where Jesus is believed to ascend into heaven is marked by the small Chapel of the Ascension which is a holy site for both Christians and Muslims. In the round building is a stone believed to be imprinted with the very last impression of Jesus’ right foot on earth.
While touring Jerusalem and Mount of Olives, visit the little know, yet so important Chapel of Ascension. But before you go, read its description and tips from Travelujah: Chapel of the Ascension.
If you go:
May 8, 2013 Mount of Olives – Shrine of the Ascension
16.00 Entry of the custodial vicar, Fr. Artemio Vitores, OFM
May 9, 2013 Mount of Olives – Shrine of the Ascension
9.30 Solemn Mass
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Beata M. Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.