Currents News Staff
For the first time in 300 years, pilgrims will be able to climb the Scala Santa or the Holy Staircase on the original marble that Jesus himself walked. This experience is only open for 60 days, from April 11 until Pentecost, when wood will be placed over the stairs yet again to preserve the soft marble.
Since summer 2018, the stairs have been closed with work ranging from the frescoes above to the last step of the marble stairs.
“It was necessary to restore the walnut wood that covered the 28 steps of the Holy Stairs. This walnut wood was put into place in 1723 by Pope Innocent XIII to protect the marble steps. The steps are very worn down by the faithful climbing them,” said Fr. Francesco Guerra, Rector of the Scala Sant
Millions upon millions have climbed these stairs, seeking indulgences for the soul.
“Pilgrims can get a plenary indulgence, which means remission for every stain of sin and every consequence of sin. The effort of this physical sacrifice allows us to feel concretely closer to Jesus’ pain, experiencing pain and fatigue, like He experienced,” said Guerra.
Additionally, Fr. Francesco insists this experience draws believers closer to Christ, through respect and devotion. Faith in tradition is also concretely marked along the way.
“One can see there are crosses in certain places to protect where, according to tradition, Jesus fell and there are drops of blood. If you look closely, near the cross the marble is conserved very well, while as nearby it is very worn out,” he said.
Tradition says these marble stairs were brought from Jerusalem by Emperor Constantine’s mother, St. Helena, once Christianity was the Roman Empire’s main religion.
The restoration of the entire sanctuary and the additional staircases located next to this one has taken six years. It should all be complete by summer 2020 to prepare for the millions more Christians who will make this pilgrimage in the future.