What is Ascension Day

In the liturgical calendar, Ascension Day takes place 40 days after Easter and marks the day that Jesus rose into heaven after his resurrection.

The ascension is mentioned briefly in Mark and Luke’s Gospels, and the event is described in the first chapter of the book of Acts:

When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Acts also says that he appeared to the disciples for 40 days after his resurrection before this took place, which is why the church observes the day 40 days after Easter. The celebration of Ascension Day is believed to date to the fourth or fifth century.

At Trinity, Ascension Day also commemorates the day that the current Trinity Church building was consecrated in 1846. The current church is the third on the site after the first burned down and the second was demolished due to structural issues. The third church was designed by famed architect Richard Upjohn and is considered one of the first and finest examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in the United States. With a 281-foot high steeple, Trinity was the tallest building in New York City until 1890. Upjohn designed many churches around the United States.

An architectural drawing of Trinity Church by Richard Upjohn.

Trinity will celebrate Ascension Day with a noonday Eucharist and a special Eucharist at 5:30pm on May 25 in Trinity Church


Homepage photo: detail from Jesus ascending into heaven by John Singleton Copley.