Pilgrims will be flooding to the Vatican this year as the Catholic church announces it has unveiled its “Holy staircase” for the first time in 300 years.
Previously covered by wooden planks, the staircase has been completely closed off to the public for the past year as it underwent a dramatic refurbishment. 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 where it became a pilgrimage point due to the fact that 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.
Modern visitors will be able to visit the attraction, much as pilgrims have for hundreds of years, famously ascending on their knees, kissing the blood-stained spots (now marked with medieval crosses).
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.
“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.”
According to the Vatican, the stairs will only be revealed until June 9.