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For Christians around the world, Thursday marks the Feast of the Ascension, known as the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, and is a great feast that marks the bodily Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
The feast is traditionally celebrated on a Thursday, the fortieth day after Easter. This year, the celebration comes on May 17.
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.
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.
Nowadays, the place where Jesus is believed to have ascended 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
.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.