At Holy Week, pilgrims retrace Jesus’ steps on the Holy Stairs

Pilgrims climb up the 28 steps of Scala Sancta on their knees, retracing Jesus’ short but fateful trip to face then governor Pilate, who allowed the mob to crucify Him despite finding Him guiltless.

ROME—The Scala Sancta or Holy Stairs in Rome was reopened after 300 years for only 60 days starting April 11, and it has become one of the most important stops for pilgrims this Holy Week.

The marble staircase, enclosed in wood before, was the one Jesus climbed to reach His way to Pontius Pilate, who had initially tried to evade passing judgment on Jesus because he could find no crime that Jesus committed. However, under pressure from the high priests and the mob that demanded crucifixion—and who wanted a thief and murderer freed instead—Pilate passed on Jesus’ judgment right after, while washing his hands off the latter’s fate.

To reach the top, one must climb by kneeling on the 28 steps. Along the way, medieval crosses mark at least three spots on the steps where Jesus’ blood is believed to have fallen.

The Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs, as it is fully known, is just across the Basilica of Saint John Lateran and, according to Catholic Travel Guide, is under the custody of The Passionist Fathers.

Credit for bringing over to Rome the steps in front of the Governor’s Palace in Jerusalem is given to Helena, the Emperor Constantine’s mother. Catholic Travel Guide said she had “made it her personal quest to retrieve as many articles that were touched by Jesus from the area of Judea.”

Though “their authenticity cannot be 100 percent confirmed, the marble at Scala Sancta “is of the same type found in Jerusalem and archaeologists have confirmed that the marble steps are missing from the ancient site in Jerusalem,” added the Catholic Travel Guide.

Image credits: Stephanie Tumampos


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