The Feast of the Holy Ascension

The Feast of the Holy Ascension

The Feast of the Holy Ascension

The Commemoration of the Feast of the Holy Ascension of Jesus Christ occurs Forty days after the Resurrection of the

Lord. This year, the Ascension Feast occurs on the 20th of the Coptic month of Bashans, which is May 28.

There is a very brief mention of the Ascension of Jesus at the very end of the Gospel of St Luke. And Luke’s description of it in the first chapter of Acts of the Apostles is also brief, yet it made an understandably profound impact on the newly forming church, as shown by the multiple references to it made by St Paul in his Epistles.

It specifies in The Gospel of Luke 24:50-52, “When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with

great joy.”     Bethany was a village atop the Mount of Olives, which is a relatively gently sloped low mountain (or high hill) just outside the walls of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives is mentioned several times in the New Testament; Jesus went there often, even on the night of his Last Supper, he went to Gethsemene to pray, and was arrested there.

Gethsemane is not as near to the top of the Mount of Olives as Bethany is. The area then was known for its olive groves; to this day there are some olive trees that are among the most ancient trees still living on Earth. The area has several churches and convents and chapels marking the holy places where Jesus first said the Lord’s Prayer, and the rock at Gethsemene where he prayed, and the chapel at the top of the Mount of Olives, where Jesus last stood on Earth before he ascended into Heaven.

The Holy Ascension is one of the seven Major Feasts of Jesus, and is ten days before the Feast of Pentecost.

Coptic Icons Through the Centuries Depicting the Holy Ascension

18th century icon by Coptic iconographer Yuanna the Armenian

Contemporary icon.

Carved elephant tusk, about a thousand years old.

Copy of ancient icon found at Mt Sinai.
Mount of Olives, Scene of the Ascension

Chapel of the Ascension at the top of the Mount of Olives. 

Inside the chapel, the footprint in rock said to be that of Jesus, just before he ascended.

Ancient olive trees abound on the Mount of Olives.

The view of Old Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives; in the time of Jesus, the Great Temple would have stood where the golden-domed mosque and surrounding plaza are now. And of course, there were no skyscrapers on the horizon. The wall surrounding the Old City date from many different centuries through time.

 

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