The Scala Santa (“Holy Steps”) is located in a building across the square in front of the Basilica of St. John in Lateran in Rome. The 28 marble steps covered with wood are said to be the steps Jesus had to climb when he was led before Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem to be sentenced to death.
Scala Santa Rome
Address, Admission and Opening Hours
The address of the Scala Santa (or Sancta) is Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, 14 – 00185 Rome. Tel. +39 06 7726641 (from 08.00 to 12.00). The Santuario della Scala Santa is open daily from 06:30 to 18:30. On Sundays and holidays, the shrine opens 30 minutes later. No reservations are required to climb the steps on your knees.
History and description
According to medieval tradition, the steps were brought to Rome by Helena (the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great) in 326. Since 1589, they have been in their present location, where they were placed by Pope Sixtus V.
Pilgrims from all over the world come to Rome to kneel and climb these steps, which used to be called Scala Pilati.
It is one of the holiest places in Christianity. As usual, there are game changers, in this case historians who claim that the steps date from the 4th century. Probably these people don’t believe that through the small glass windows on the steps you can see drops of Jesus’ blood either.
Originally, the steps were located in the Patriarchum, or complex of the Palazzi Lateranensi, where the popes used to reside.
Under Pope Pius IX (mid-19th century) a restoration took place and the cult of the reliquary was promoted. Until the unification of Italy in 1870 he regularly climbed the steps himself, but after this event he sulkily locked himself inside the Vatican.
The Holy Steps are the property of the Holy See and as such, according to the 1929 Pact of the Lateran, are not subject to Italian law.
In addition to the Holy Steps, there is another, slightly less sacred staircase, which leads to the Sancta Sanctorum, a chapel with a famous painting of the Savior. The heads of Saints Peter and Paul used to be preserved below its altar, before they were transferred to St. John of the Lateran.