After rising from the dead, Christ continued to appear to his followers for forty days. Once this time was up, he then returned to heaven. According to the book of Acts, the twelve apostles were witnesses of this event, which is known as the ‘Ascension’ of Christ.
Pope St John Paul II neatly summarised the message of the Ascension in this way: “The richness of this mystery is spelled out in two statements: Jesus gave instructions, and then Jesus took his place.” The instructions to his apostles were to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit and then to proclaim the gospel throughout all the earth. This instruction is symbolised in this image by the book that the ascending Christ is holding. The place that Christ then took was in heaven, “at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19; Ephesians 1:20; 1 Peter 3:22).
This stunning Byzantine-style scene of the Ascension forms part of a mural that was painted by artist Maurizia Lees in 2010. The mural covers the entire sanctuary of the church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Brixton. It depicts all five of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary (the Resurrection, the Ascension, Pentecost, the Assumption and the Coronation of Our Lady). This particular scene reflects various details of the biblical account – Christ blessing the apostles with his right hand, the angels pointing to Christ’s eventual return and the trees of the Mount Olives (Luke 24:50,51; Acts 1:10-12).
Where to find this work of art
Our Lady of the Rosary, Brixton
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