Pilgrims Expected to Reach Pre-Pandemic Levels and Return to Rome’s Holy Stairs

Tags: Currents Crux, Faith, Inspiration, Media, Pope Francis, World News

Currents News Staff

Tradition holds that Jesus climbed these stairs, dubbed the “Scala Santa,” before coming face-to-face with Pontius Pilate.

Each year, thousands go up these 28 steps on their knees. Now, the flow of pilgrims is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels after Italy loosened its restrictions.

“Of course, it is a difficult moment for everyone,” said rector Father Leonello Leidi, “but we have noticed that in the people that came to the Scala Santa, there was this desire to contemplate the Passion of Christ up close, and to be present in that moment of pain and pray in it.”

The rector of the Scala Santa says that among the groups that visit the stairs are schools, who bring their students.

“It’s very beautiful to see groups of students that come to Rome on pilgrimage,” Father Leidi said. “They climb the Scala Santa as a challenge to bring themselves closer to Jesus’ passion.”

But the pilgrims are not limited to students, Emilia Mangas comes from Spain, and is a widow. It is her first time coming to the Scala Santa. She says she followed the tradition and climbed them on her knees.

“I felt very close to God,” said Emilia, “to everything that goes on during Holy Week. I was looking at the sky and thinking of my husband, that everything will end, this war, this pandemic, and that we can all live in peace right where we are.”

Many others like Emilia come to these stairs during Holy Week, and some groups of pilgrims see it as an essential stop in Rome. Yet tourists aren’t the only ones that climb them on their knees, popes such as Pope Pius IX did so in 1853.