After our Lord rose from the dead, He spent 40 days continuing to teach His disciples. He made appearances to many individuals and groups, as described in Scripture. When His time on Earth was over, He gathered the eleven Apostles on top of the Mount of Olives to give them one last commandment, known as The Great Commission:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
After saying this, He ascended into Heaven, where He will remain until His glorious second coming.
On the Mount of Olives is the Ascension Chapel, surrounding the exact location from which Jesus ascended. The imprint of his footstep is still embedded upon this stone and is a revered holy site for all of Christianity. This year the Feast of the Ascension is celebrated by all Christian denominations on the same day. Thursday, May 25th, 2017, Christians will gather inside this octagonal chapel and celebrate according to their unique rites and traditions.
The Franciscans will begin their commemoration of the Ascension with Vespers and Compline on the Vigil of the Ascension – Wednesday, May 24. These traditional prayers will be followed by an all-night prayer vigil. The formal celebrations will conclude with a solemn Mass on the morning of the Ascension.
During the night and throughout the feast, the other Christian denominations will also celebrate their own liturgies. The octagonal church has many spaces to set up multiple altars for these concurrent liturgies. When the number of liturgies is too great, added tents will be set up on the grounds surrounding Ascension Chapel.
To learn more about last year’s celebrations, please click here.