The Solemnity of the Ascension is a feastday of obligation in the diocese of Jerusalem. The other feastdays of obligation are Christmasday, Epiphany and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. These feasts are celebrated on the very same day of the event they commemorate. Ascension falls forty days after Easter, according to the indications found in the Acts of the Apostles (1,3). Therefore it is celebrated on the Thursday of the sixth week of the liturgical season of Easter.
On Wednesday morning, the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land take care to prepare the place which commemorates the Ascension on the Mount of Olives. This is the Imbomon, where the aedicule of the Ascension is found. The friars pitch their tents in front of the aedicule of the Ascension. They have three tents: one serves as a sacristy, one is a place of rest for the friars, and the third tent is the place for the lay people who serve in various duties and in keeping good order during the celebrations. There is also a place for a small kitchen.
This year the tents were nearly going to be blwn away by the strong wind which was blowing during the solemn entry of the Custodial Vicar and the Vespers, at 4.30 p.m. on Wedenesday. After a short break Compline was celebrated. Later on, at 11.00 p.m., the friars celebrated the Vigil of the Solemnity. At the end of the Vigil celebration the deacon sang the Gospel which was followed by the singing of the Te Deum. At midnight 12 different groups of priests and pilgrims alternated in the celebration of the Eucharist all during the night until the early morning. At 9.30 a.m. on Ascension day the solemn Mass was celebrated. All the liturgical celebrations were presided by Fr. Artemio Vítores, Custodial Vicar, while the liturgical service was conducted by the students of the philosophical and theological Seminary of the Custody.
The young friars who served during all the celebrations alternated in being present all during the day ! and night. In this way the Solemnity of the Ascension was celebrated on its particular anniversary on the very same spot where the mystery took place. At the end of the celebration the friars took down their tents and went back to Jerusalem in order to prepare themselves for the celebration of the Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross in the Basilica of the Resurrection.