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Pope Francis

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Hundreds of pilgrims climb Rome’s Holy Staircase to remember the passion of Christ


Fr. Carlo Fioravanti
Passionist Brothers

“According to popular tradition, this is the staircase that Jesus climbed when he was condemned to death, but it’s not true. This staircase is part of the praetorian Pilate in Jerusalem.”

In the year 326, St. Helen, mother of emperor Constantine, ordered to have the staircase sent to the Eternal City.

At first it stood before the papal basilica of St. John Lateran. In 1589, by order of Sixtus V, it was moved  to the Sancta Santorum, the chapel where popes used to pray, which faces the basilica.

Fr. Carlo Fioravanti
Passionist Brothers

"The pilgrims on their knees up to receive the holy indulgence, or forgiveness of their sins, meditating on the passion of Jesus.”

In the year 1700, the staircase was covered in wood, in order to keep the massive number of pilgrims from damaging it.

Among the millions of people who have climbed the staircase is St. Francis of Asisi, St. Domenico and Pope Innocent III. But the staircase isn’t only significant for Catholics.

Fr. Carlo Fioravanti
Passionist Brothers

“People come here from all backgrounds. Catholics and non-Catholics, orthodox and non-believers. Important people such as patriarchs of Eastern Orthodox and Christian personalities have also visited the staircase. An politicians like Yeltsin, who climbed the ladder with his wife just like any other pilgrim.”

During Holy Week, and especially on Holy Friday, this staircase turns into another one of the main places of worship in the Eternal City.