7 Quick Facts about the Ascension

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1. Ascension Thursday commemorates the ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of the Father 40 days after the Resurrection, as recorded by Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, Acts 1:2; and referenced in John 6:63; John 20:17; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 4:8-10; Colossians 3:3; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 3:22.

2. The ascension of Jesus serves as his proper enthronement, fulfilling the offer that Satan made to him in the wilderness (Luke 4:5-7).

3. The Eastern church refers to the feast as analepsis, or the taking up, and episozomene, the salvation.

4. According to tradition, the ascension took place at Mount Olivet near Bethany.

5. Augustine’s work appears to be the first written evidence of the observance of the feast day on Ascension Thursday, although he traces its origin to the apostles. John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Constitution of the Apostles also make reference to the feast.

6. There are several liturgical customs tied to the ascension: the use of torches in liturgical procession; the blessings of beans and grapes as a symbolic feast for the dead in heaven; the use of processional banners with images of a lion and at his foot a dragon, signifying Christ’s triumph over evil; the elevation of a figure of Christ through the roof of the church.

7. The feast day is observed on Sunday instead of Thursday in many churches in order to give it due significance, since it is not a civic holiday in secular culture.

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