The Staircase Experts

Neverending quality and expertise.

The Scala Sancta: Rome’s Holy Stairs


Stairs were invented for floor-to-floor navigation and accessibility. However, there is an internal straight stairs in Rome, Italy famed for its history and importance in Catholic faith. Known as the Scala Sancta or Holy Stairs, the steps lead to Sancta Sanctorum (Holy of Holies). It is believed to lead to praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, which Jesus Christ stood on during his Passion on his way to trial. Consisting of twenty eight white marble steps, encased by wooden steps, the Scala Sancta is located near San Giovanni in Laterano next to a church which was built on ground brought from Mount Calvary. It attracted Christian pilgrims who honour the Passion of Jesus. Here are some interesting facts regarding this holy relic:

  • Medieval legends claim that St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great brought the stairs from Jerusalem to Rome.
  • The Scala Sancta is encased in protective wood, flanked by four other stairs, tow on each side.
  • It can only be ascended on the knees, a devotion in favour to pilgrims and faithful.
  • It is often visited during Fridays and the Lenten season.
  • A little church at the end of the gate is said to be the burial site of Enoch and Elia, two prophets.
  • Legend tells that anyone who looks at them dies immediately. Moreover, they will come back at the end of time to speak about God.
  • Each of the 28 steps has an individual prayer, with penitents receiving a papal indulgence for each step completed.
  • The wooden staircase has cutaways revealing to what is said to be drops of blood from Jesus Christ.
  • Important Christian relics are also said to be stored in the church though not accessible to the public.
  • The decoration of this majestic stair was one of the major refurbishment of Pope Sixtus V
  • Pius X granted a plenary indulgence to be gained as often as the stairs are devoutly ascended after confession and communion.


Imitations of the Scala Sancta have been erected in different religious places such as convents of nuns and indulgences attached to them by special concessions. Two churches in Italy namely, Scaro Monte di Varallo in Piedmont and St. Paul’s Church in Campli has an imitation. Other countries such as Germany, France, Slovakia and the United States have erected their own on some of their Catholic churches. The Scala Sancta is an example of how a simple stairs can be a relic. Its significance to the Catholic faith and to its history will last for eons.

Image courtesy of and


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on February 27, 2014 by in Famous Staircases and tagged , .
%d bloggers like this: