chapel of the ascension

Chapel of The Ascension

About 150 meters north of the Paternoster Church is the Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Here in the chapel, the last footprint of Christ is shown. The Chapel of the Ascension is located on the highest point of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, east of the Old City. It is located at the end from which − according to tradition − Jesus Christ ascended to heaven ( Acts 1.9 EU ). The religious building is under the nameAscension Chapel and Ascension Mosque known. This place is revered by Christians and Muslims alike. The chapel is located in a courtyard surrounded by high walls.

Even the early Christians commemorated Christ’s ascension ( Luke 24:50-51 ) in a cave on the Mount of Olives. In 387, a pious Roman woman named Poimenia donated an octagonal church building. Which was primarily destroyed by the Persian troops under Chosrau II in 614. At the end of the 7th century, a successor building, open at the top, is mentioned, in which – within an enclosure – the two footprints of Christ could be seen in the dust. This building was also destroyed – probably under the Fatimid Sultan Al-Hakim in 1009.

History of The Chapel of The Ascension

The crusaders built the – probably roofed – ground floor of today’s chapel around 1152 over the stone with the “footprint of the Lord.” After the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladin, the building was converted into a mosque in 1187. Which it officially is to this day ( Ascension Mosque ). Due to many Christian visitors, Saladin decided to build a new mosque (Mohammed Alami Mosque). For centuries, Christians used the Chapel of the Ascension almost exclusively in the immediate vicinity. The Chapel is a simple building with a diameter of about 6.60 meters. Whose ground floor – octagonal on the outside – is surrounded by blind arcades with beautiful Romanesque capitals.

The octagon leads into a tambour, also octagonal and illuminated by four narrow windows with rounded corners from the time of Saladin; Above that, a dome – unadorned inside and out – rounds off the top of the building. The unadorned round wall inside the building is accentuated by a mihrab niche and two wall niches on either side. A small rectangular enclosure on the floor gives a view of the original rock with what is believed to be the suitable footprint of Christreleases. The frame for the printing was already brought to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in medieval times.

The First Church of the Ascension

In ancient times, at the time of King David, there was one on the site of the Chapel of the Ascension where the Jewish people gathered in prayer. In the second book of Samuel. It is said that David, having climbed the Mount of Olives, finally reached the summit, “the place where one bows down before God” (2 Sam 15:32) . Undoubtedly secondary then, it was given the absolute centrality of the temple in Jerusalem.

In Christian times, they wanted to build a small church to commemorate the Ascension of Jesus. The Roman patrician Poimenia, in 378, started the work. The construction was born on the top of the Mount of Olives. Precisely on a clod of earth which, it was said, carried the steps of the feet of the Lord. When he left the ground towards heaven. A letter from the 5th century tells us that these footprints could be admired in the grass, on sandy soil, “the only green spot in the whole basilica.”

It must have been a rather elegant building, crowned by a roof in the center of which was a hole. Something similar to the current dome of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. Poimenia, it is believed, kept uncovered precisely the point where the footprints of Jesus could be venerated to remember very vividly the words spoken, according to Acts, by men in white robes: “Men of Galilee, why are you looking at the sky? “.

chapel of the ascension

Representation of The Chapel of The Ascension

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In the last quarter of the 15th century, a traveler from Nuremberg mentions the Ascension Church “On the Top of the Mount of Olives.” “On the top of the Mount of Olives, there is a church at the place where God ascended to heaven. In the same church, not far from the door, is the stone on which God stood when he ascended into heaven, for one can still see His holy footprint in the stone, especially the footprint of the right foot. You can also see the other footprint, but not as clearly. In the same place are indulgences, the forgiveness of all punishment for sins and guilt.”

The Catholic Christians are allowed to celebrate the feast of the Ascension in the chapel. At the same time, the Orthodox churches must hold their services in the courtyard. Some researchers think that the octagonal floor plan of the predecessor buildings of today’s Ascension Chapel. It could have served as an architectural model for the – also octagonal – Dome of the Rock ( around 700 ). From which – allegedly – the Prophet Mohammed is said to have started his nocturnal journey to heaven.


The Ascension of Jesus is the episode that concludes the narration of the Gospels. And opens that of the Acts of the Apostles. Today, May 26, the Church commemorates this event, constituted by the transit of the risen Jesus from earth to heaven. The most vivid account of the facts is in the Acts of the Apostles, in the first chapter. Here are a few passages.

“While Jesus was at the table with the apostles, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem. But to wait to fulfill the Father’s promise. As the apostles looked at him, he was lifted, and a cloud took him from their eyes. They looked at the sky as he left when two men in white robes approached them. And said, “Men of Galilee, why are you looking at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken to heaven among you, will come in the same way you saw him go to heaven. Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. »

Therefore, nowadays, celebrations occur at the Chapel of the Ascension, as the Acts of the Apostles would have it, at the top of the Mount of Olives. At first glance, the building may be problematic. The pilgrim who arrives here stands before the lean mass of a minaret and a tower that looks like a mosque. And indeed, the history of the Chapel of the Ascension is complex. And for a long time, the building was in the hands of Muslims.