Ascension Church
Mount of Olives Jerusalem

The Ascension Church or Chapel of the Ascension, in Hebrew Capelat Haaliyah,  in the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem Israel is believed to be built on the site of Jesus’ ascension to heaven. It is a small round church or mosque where the visitor can see the footprints of Jesus in a small stone.

The round structure of the Church of the Ascension in Jerusalem

Quotes from the New Testament

Luke 24:50-51 - When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

Acts 1:9-11 - He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? 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."

The rock with footprints of Jesus inside the Chapel of Ascension

History of the Chapel

The first church on this site in Mount of Olives, was built on this site around 390 by a Roman Lady called Poimenia, later destroyed by the Persians in 614 to be rebuilt again by Modestus. Pilgrims of the seventh century describe the church as round one open to the sky and with an aedicule inside where the footprints of Jesus were clearly visible on the dust.

When the Crusaders arrived by 1150 they rebuilt the Church of Ascension as an octagon. When the crusaders fell to Salah al Din (Saladin) it was converted into a mosque for the next 300 years.

During the 15th century it was abandoned and later a new mosque was built with minarets and remained into Muslim possession.

During the Muslim Period they built the exterior octagonal walls with all kind of arches and columns and a “Mihrab” signaling the direction of Mecca in the south wall.

Pilgrims meet on the Ascension Church for the
Day of the Ascension

Burial Crypt

Next to the chapel there is a small burial site revered by the three Monotheistic Religions; Jews believe that the 7th century BC Prophet Huldah, one of the female prophets mentioned in the Bible rests there; Christians believe that 5th century saint Pelagia is buried there and Muslims maintain that the 8th century holy woman Rabi'a al-Adawiya rests here.

The church may be visited on your Holy Land Tour for a nominal fee.

images for ascension church
courtesy of wikimedia commons

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