This day commemorates the ascension of Christ to heaven from the Mount of Olives. Luke 24:50-53 seems to imply that the Ascension occurred during the evening of the day of the Resurrection, but it is stated in Acts 1:3 and Mark 16:19 that this event took place in presence of the apostles forty days later. Further implicit references to this are found in John 6:62 and 22:17; Ephesians 4:8-10; Hebrews 4:14 and 7:26; 1 Peter 3:22; and 1 Timothy 3:16. The forty-day tradition is accepted by the Copts and this seems to have been their practice from early times. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, Etheria, and SOCRATES refer to the celebration of the feast in the course of the fourth century.
This feast is solemnly celebrated by the Copts on the fifth Thursday after Easter Sunday, that is, the fortieth day after Christ’s Resurrection. It is always accompanied by the same liturgy as the Resurrection, and a procession commemorates the journey of Jesus to the Mount of Olives from which he went to heaven. Among the Copts, this service seems to have taken the form of a simple church function without the popular celebrations of Easter.
- Benoit, P. “L’Ascension.” Revue biblique (1949):167-203. Burmester, O. H. E. The Egyptian or Coptic Church. Cairo, 1967. Milligan, W. The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of Our Lord.
- London, 1891; 2nd edition, Greenwood, S.C., 1977. Swete, H. B. The Ascended Christ. London, 1910.