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May 18, 2021

Transfiguration of Jesus

Orthodox and Catholic Christians celebrate today the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor – one of the most important Christian feasts -, when His apostles are persuaded that their great teacher is not only a prophet of God, but also the living God. It is believed that the Transfiguration of Christ occurred during the Jewish festival of Booths and, thus, its celebration in the Christian Church becomes the fulfilling, in the New Testament, of the Old Testament feast. At present, it is celebrated on August 6, forty days before the Ascension of the Holy Cross. Just as Peter, Jacob and John saw the transfiguration before the crucifixion so that they could know who their Redeemer was, the Church binds these two feasts together to help Christians understand the mission of Christ and the fact that his suffering was voluntary and fully embraced.

Many monasteries were consecrated to this holiday, especially following the Hesychast controversy of the 14th century, on the nature of the light on Tabor and contemplation. It is also worth mentioning that, according to a tradition in circulation since the age of iconoclasm, the first Icon made by the apostles depicted the Transfiguration. In the West, the feast of Transfiguration, although celebrated on occasion as early as the 7th century, became generalised only much later, by the decision made by Pope Callixtus III to consecrate this holiday as a token of gratitude for the victory of Christian armies against the Turks in Belgrade, in 1456.

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