The Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs is the site to an impressive pilgrimage. No pilgrim who has come to Rome can leave without visiting the Holy Stairs. It is one of the most important and renowned sanctuaries, situated near the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. The Sanctuary houses the Sancta Sanctorum, recognized as the first private Papal chapel. If you come to Rome as a pilgrim or not, the site is truly unique. You should not miss the opportunity to visit the Holy Stairs, a truly impressive pilgrimage.
The 28 steps
The sanctuary gets its name from the 28 marble steps of the Holy Stairs. According to an ancient Christian tradition, Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine, had the stairs transported from Jerusalem to Rome.
Why are these steps so important?
Why are these 28 marble steps considered so important for Christianity? It is not only because they come from Jerusalem… It is believed that Jesus climbed these stairs several times the day he was sentenced to death. They are, therefore, also known as the “Scala Pilati” or “Scala Sancta”.
It is also known that the stairs were originally placed in the complex of the Lateran Palaces. This was the location of the ancient seat of the Papacy. The stairs were placed in front of the Sancta Sanctorum. This creates the core of the Sanctuary that can be seen today.
The Sanctuary, as part of the Holy See, according to the 1929 Lateran pact between Mussolini and the Roman Catholic Church, has the all the rights of extraterritoriality.
The Plenary Indulgence
Not many tourist know (but the pilgrims do!) that the Apostolic Penitentiary grants a plenary indulgence (the forgiveness) to those who decide climb the Scala Santa on their knees. It is also required for the penitent pilgrims to recite a series of prayers which will lead to their purification and allow the plenary indulgence.
This is a further reason that has in the years attracted many visitors to the Scala Santa. Do come to Rome and let us know if you are interested in visiting this extraordinary site. We can arrange a special Tour for you! Whether you are a Christian or not, the Holy Stairs, are a truly impressive pilgrimage.