The Scala Sancta is believed to have been stained with drops of Jesus’s blood as he was crucified.

By Cailey Rizzo
Updated: April 22, 2019
These original marble steps will be accessible until June 9, 2019, the Feast of the Pentecost, after which their walnut wood covering, wanted by Pope Innocent XIII in 1723 to protect them, will be repositioned.
Andrew Medichini/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Visitors to Rome this spring will be able to experience a once-in-a-lifetime visit to an important Catholic relic.

The Vatican announced it will display its holy stairs — believed to have been walked up by Jesus before his judgment by Pontius Pilate — for the first time in 300 years.

The Scala Sancta, as the stairway is called in Latin, is believed to have been stained with drops of Jesus’s blood as he was crucified. Pilgrims who visit the steps famously ascend on their knees, kissing the blood-stained spots (now marked with medieval crosses). But for the past 300 years, the marble staircase has been covered by planks of wood.

It is opening to the public after a yearlong restoration project. Visitors will not only be able to see the marble staircase without any covering, but they will enjoy newly restored frescoes on the walls and ceilings.

Pilgrims in line to enter the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs/Scala Santa re-opened after restoration in Rome, Italy.
Grzegorz Galazka/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

"I already did it when it was wooden steps but it's much more moving now," one pilgrim told Associated Foreign Press after climbing the revealed staircase. "If you think about the fact that Jesus was here, and where he was held and where he suffered, it's very emotional."

Since 1723, the staircase has been covered by wooden planks when Pope Innocent XIII decided the steps could no longer tolerate the wear of thousands of pilgrims’ visits.

The 28-step staircase is believed to have been taken from Pontius Pilate’s home in Jerusalem in the fourth century and brought to Rome by St. Helena.

Faithful kneel on the newly restored Holy Stairs (Scala Sancta), which according to Catholic Church is the stair on which Jesus Christ stepped leading on his way to the crucifixion, during a special opening, in Rome.
Andrew Medichini/AP/REX/Shutterstock

After climbing the staircase on their knees, pilgrims enter the Sancta Sanctorum, a room that was once the Pope’s private chapel and contains several relics of saints.

The stairs will be revealed until June 9, according to the Vatican.

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