The Monumental Composition of the Ascension Icon
The Feast of the Ascension is one of the most significant feasts in the Christian Church. It is celebrated on Thursday on the fortieth day after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Ascension icon is an example of a canonical and monumental composition that details the Church’s texts of this major event. Let’s take a closer look at the traditions of the Ascension and religious icons depicting it.
The Feast of the Ascension
The tradition of celebrating the Ascension was ultimately established by the Christian Church in the 5th century. A brief description of this event is given in the final chapters of the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke. After the Resurrection, Christ with His disciples climbed the Mount of Olives where He told them to stay together. He also said that in a few days, they would be “baptized with the Holy Spirit,” and right after that, He ascended into heaven.
The Feast of the Ascension signifies the manifestation of the divine nature of Christ, which is invisible to the human eye.
For many years, the Ascension icon was placed in the churches on the central dome as a symbolic reminder of Christ’s second coming. It was the same promise made by the angels after Jesus ascended to heaven.
The monumental composition of the Ascension icon
The iconography of the Feast of the Ascension is highly canonical. Jesus Christ is traditionally depicted in the upper part of the composition. Enclosed in a mandorla, He is floating in the heavens. Christ is flanked by angels. The earthly world is seen in the lower part of the composition. It depicts the Mother of God in the center, surrounded by the Twelve Apostles standing with their heads raised up.
The Savior is depicted sitting on the throne in a green circle that symbolizes the glory of God. He is holding a scroll. One can see the confusion and astonishment among the Apostles. There is chaos in this part of the icon, while in heaven, there is complete tranquility and order. In the background, there is the Mount of Olives in the form of rocks, where the Ascension of Jesus Christ took place.
The Ascension icon is a highly revered shrine that commemorates the divine beginning of Jesus Christ, and the Feast itself is one of the most important for all Christians.