Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Chapel of the Ascension in Jerusalem

During his recent trip to the Holy Land, Nicola visited the Mount of Olives, the site on which the Ascension, which we celebrate today, took place. A church was built on the site in the year 376, but there now remains only the octogonal structure seen below, a work of the Crusader period, which contains within it the stone said to be the very one from which the Lord ascended into heaven, and some remains of an octagonal precinct around it.

The stone of the Ascension, worn smooth by centuries of pilgrims touching and kissing it.
The precinct around the rotunda contains the barest remains of a Byzantine church formerly on the site, and the altar seen below.
St Helena built a sanctuary on the Mount of Olives, known as the Elaion, from the Greek word for olive, but also called “of the Apostles”, since it was believed to the place where Christ taught the Apostles how to pray. This is based on the fact that it is quite close to the Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, whom Christ visits at the end of Luke 10, and at the beginning of the next chapter 11, “one of his disciples said to him: Lord, teach us to pray”, which leads into the Lord’s Prayer. In the early years of the peace of the Church, this was one of the most important churches in the Holy Land; the pilgrim Egeria, writing in the 380s, recounts that this was where the Christian community of Jerusalem gathered on Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, each afternoon of the octave of Easter, on Pentecost, and the third day after the dedication of the Holy Sepulcher. However, there now remains nothing of the original church, nor of church built on the same site in the Crusader era; the modern structure was begun on the site in 1920, but remains incomplete to this day.
The entrance to the grotto where Christ taught the Apostles.
The cloister, which is modelled on the famous Camposanto of the cathedral of Pisa, is decorated with majolica tiles with the text of the Lord’s Prayer in a huge variety of languages.
Greek, the language of the Gospels
Church Slavonic

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