ARTS & LEISURE

Today, Christians celebrate the Ascension

Orthodox and Greek- Catholic believers will celebrate on Thursday, 40 days after the Easter, the Ascension of Our Lord to heaven, which occurred, according to the Holy Writings, on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, where Jesus invited His apostles for a final blessing.

Although Jesus’ earthly mission ended by His Ascension to Heaven, Our Saviour told His disciples in the very moment of His Ascension: “I will remain with you until the end of times.” He ascended in order to send the Holy Spirit, according to His promise: “I will ask the Father to send you another comforter.” This will happen ten years later, at the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended over the Holy Apostles, turning them from simple and shy persons into daring and wise missionaries that would spread Christian teachings all over the world. After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared several times and in various locations to His disciples or to people to knew Him and believed that He was the Messiah. The first who saw him was Mary Magdalene, yet the Apostles were unwilling to believe her, until they saw the Saviour with their own eyes. At the time being, a chapel was built on the place Jesus ascended to heaven, a sacred place both for Christians and Muslims, as Christ’s Ascension to heaven is acknowledged by Muslims as well, although it is not mentioned in the Koran. The building preserves a stone that has a footmark allegedly left by the Saviour. Until 312 AD, the year of Emperor Constantine the Great’s baptism, Christians used to celebrate the Ascension in a cave on the Mount of Olives, hiding from their prosecutors. Around 390 AD, the first Christian Church was built here, yet it was destroyed by Persians in 614 AD and restored later by the eparch Modest. In certain places, lambs are sacrificed for Ascension and cattle are marked with paint and cuts in their earlobes.

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