Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs
P.za di S. Giovanni in Laterano, 14, 00185 Roma RM, Italy
|⏰ Opening Hours
7:00 AM - 1:30 PM
|💸 Entrance Fee
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What is La Scala Sancta?
La Scala Sancta, or the Holy Stairs, are a set of 28 white marble steps that are among the most sacred sites in Christendom. Nestled near the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, these stairs hold a significance that transcends mere architecture or historical interest. For believers, these are the very steps that Jesus Christ ascended on the day of his trial before Pontius Pilate.
Traditionally, pilgrims climb these steps on their knees, reflecting on the Passion of Christ with each painstaking step. It's an act of devotion and penance that has been performed for centuries. The staircase itself is encased in a protective wooden covering, preserving the marble—and the sanctity—from the wear of countless pilgrims.
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History of La Scala Sancta
The history of La Scala Sancta is as layered as the beliefs that surround it. According to tradition, the stairs were part of the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, and they were brought to Rome by St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, in the 4th century AD. This formidable woman was known for her contributions to the Christian relics found in the Holy Land.
The marble steps have since witnessed the faith and reverie of millions. Sealed by a bull issued by Pope Sixtus V in 1589, the stairs were enclosed in a sanctuary designed by Domenico Fontana. The sanctuary, comprising the Holy Stairs, the Chapel of San Lorenzo in Palatio, and the Sancta Sanctorum, became a renowned place of Christian pilgrimage.
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Why is La Scala Sancta Important?
The significance of La Scala Sancta stretches beyond historical facts and into the realm of spiritual experience. For the faithful, it's a tangible connection to the events of the Passion, a place where one can literally follow in the footsteps of Christ. The act of climbing the stairs on one's knees symbolizes a journey of humility, sacrifice, and contemplation.
Moreover, the Holy Stairs are important as they are intrinsically tied to the early Christian Church and the relics that played a reinforcing role in Christian worship and tradition. They serve as a poignant emblem of the pilgrimage tradition within Christianity, representing both physical and spiritual ascension.
Things to Do & See at La Scala Sancta
When you visit La Scala Sancta, the experience is multi-faceted. Certainly, the central act is ascending the stairs in contemplation—whether you share the faith or simply wish to partake in this ancient tradition, the act remains powerful. Be mindful of those around you, as this is a profoundly personal and often emotional journey for many.
At the summit, you'll find the Sancta Sanctorum, the Holy of Holies, containing some of the most venerated relics in Christianity and the personal chapel of the early popes prior to the relocation to Vatican City. Adorned with beautiful frescoes and rich decorations, it's a place that leaves many in awe.
Besides the spiritual ascent, you can explore the surrounding complex that includes the Lateran Palace, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and the Scala Santa Museum. Each offers a unique window into the ecclesiastical history and artistry of Rome. It's an opportunity not just to observe, but to immerse yourself in the centuries of devotion imprinted upon this sacred site.