Feast of the Ascension, a long night of prayer on the Mount of Olives

The night is the most particular moment of the feast of the Ascension in Jerusalem.
On the summit of the Mount of Olives, near the place where the last moments spent by Jesus on Earth are remembered, the liturgy of the hours and the vigil prayer are alternated from the afternoon. The prayer is particularly rich in songs and readings, and everything around has been dark for a few hours now.

Illuminated tents provide for the different needs of those who will spend the night in this place. The complex surrounding the chapel is enclosed by walls and managed by the Muslim community, and only on the occasion of the Ascension can Christians celebrate the Holy Mass here. This is the real protagonist of the eve, since Eucharistic celebrations take place all night long, in different languages, even at the same time, inside and around the octagonal chapel.

The highlight of the celebrations was the solemn morning mass, presided over by the Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land.

Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land
"To be on Ascension Day right on the spot that tradition indicates as the place of Ascension is always very exciting. It is also a great gift of grace. One thing that I find very important in living this experience here, right now, in this place, is that each of us can ask ourselves: what did Jesus give to the disciples as He went up to heaven? He has fulfilled His mission but He has given His disciples theirs. The mission is very important because it communicates and transmits the salvation accomplished by Jesus Himself to the whole world, to every man."

In some countries, the Ascension is also a national holiday. In Italy, the solemnity of the Ascension is linked to various celebrations and traditional events related to water, as it happens in Venice, Bari and Florence. In many countries, it is celebrated on the Sunday after Thursday, forty days after Easter. In Jerusalem, faithful from all over the world attends the morning mass: everyone brings with them memories and special emotions.

United States
"It reminded me of when I was little: we always received balloons as children and let go and give them to Baby Jesus.
We looked up to see the balloons. Today I feel like those balloons."

"It is a dream that becomes true to be able to come here and celebrate the feast of the Ascension of our Lord.
I don't know how to describe it...I'm so happy! There are many emotions that reach my mind: joy, happiness and gratitude at the same time, for coming here in this dream of a lifetime to attend mass in the chapel of the Ascension."

"I'm very happy because I'm here for the first time. It was important to express my prayer in this place, important for the Holy Church and for all Catholic pilgrims."

After the long night of the eve, the light brought with it the joy of the feast of Ascension: Christ ascends to heaven but leaves His people with the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

"I will bring with us all the spiritual strength of the city of Jerusalem, even the dust in our shoes, and we will be witnesses of what we have experienced here, together with the Christian community.
It is a way to support us in France, starting from Jerusalem."