Scala Sancta – the Holy Stairs in Rome

Scala Santa, Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, Rim, Italija

Website of the Sanctuary

+39 06 77 26 641

Every day: 6.30 – 18.30 (summer 19.00)

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There is no pilgrim who has come to Rome without desiring to visit the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs. It is one of the most important and renowned sanctuaries in the Roman Catholic Church.

Scala Sancta – The Holy Stairs

Situated near the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, the Sanctuary houses the Sancta Sanctorum, recognized as the first private Papal chapel. The sanctuary gets its name from the 28 marble steps of the Holy Stairs.


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According to an ancient Christian tradition, Saint Helena (†335), the mother of Constantine, had the stairs transported from Pontius Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem to Rome. It is believed that Jesus climbed these stairs several times the day he was sentenced to death, thus, they are known as the “Scala Pilati” or “Scala Sancta” (the Holy Stairs or Pilate’s Stairs).

The first written testimonies to this renowned memory of the Passion are found in a passage from the Liber Pontificalis dating from the time of Sergius II (844-847) and in a Papal Bull issued by Pope Pascal II (1099-1119).

It is also known that the stairs were originally placed in the complex of the Lateran Palaces (Patriarchium), the ancient seat of the Papacy. Under the supervision of Sixtus V in 1589, the stairs were placed in front of the Sancta Sanctorum, creating the core of the Sanctuary that can be seen today. The Sanctuary was restored by Pius IX (1846-78) and an adjoining convent was built and entrusted to the Passionist Fathers on February 24, 1853.

Following the example of many saints and illustrious and devoted men and women before him, Pope Pius IX climbed the stairs many times throughout his lifetime, until the eve of the capture of Rome and his voluntary reclusion in the Vatican in 1870.

The Sanctuary, as part of the Holy See, according to the 1929 Lateran pact between Mussolini and the Roman Catholic Church, has the all the rights of extraterritoriality.

Plenary indulgence of Scala Sancta

The APOSTOLIC PENTENTIARY grants a PLENARY INDULGENCE every day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy to the penitent faithful who, inspired by love, climb the Scala Santa on their knees while meditating on the Passion of Jesus and recite the Creed, one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory be and a prayer for the intention of the Pope, and also go to Confession and received Holy Communion.

Those individuals who are physically impeded from climbing the Scala Santa can receive the same PLENARY INDULGNENCE by meditating on the Passion of Jesus while at the Scala Sancta, and recite the Creed, one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory be and a prayer for the intention of the Pope, and also go to Confession and received Holy Communion. Indulgence is applicable to the dead.

Founder

St. Paul of the Cross, originally named Paolo Danei, was born in Ovada, province of Alessandria, on January 4, 1694 and died in Rome on October 18, 1775. Paul was strongly attracted in Christ crucified, and with ardent devotion founded the first Passionists community with the inspiration of living an evangelical life and proclaiming the love of God that was revealed in the Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul, seeing the spiritual difficulties during his time stood firm on his preaching of the most efficacious remedy that was conveyed by Christ’s passion which is “the greatest and stupendous work of the Divine Love.”

The Catholic Church acknowledged that the vision of Paul came through the intercession of the Holy Spirit, and entrusted him on his mission of devoting his entire life in proclaiming Christ’s Passion.

The 150 years of the Scala Sancta

By the Apostolic Constitution INTER PLURIMA TEMPLA on February 24,1854, Pope Pius IX does not only interfered to define the legal- Administration problem of the Sanctuary and the Chapel of Sancta Sanctorum, which has been subject to controversy for a very long period of time, but also entrusted the custody and the properties of the Convent to the Passionists.

It was not an easy course for Papa Mastai to resolve the questions pertaining to the responsibilities of work and maintenance and the settlements of the Sanctuary among the various organizations who are running it because each one of them hold the challenge in honor of the upkeeps of this grand and complex construction.

The Pope himself take a heart to personally asked Architect Giovanni Azzuri to be assigned in the restoration project of the residence that has been subject to the custody of the Sanctuary. Pius issued the notice of his decision that has already been said in the Apostolic Constitution DECET ROMANUM PONTEFICEM on June 13, 1853.

On September 28, 1853, the Passionists became the legal custodian of the Sanctuary “In Perpetuum”, that was written by Pius IX. And for 160 years, they are taking care of the Sanctuary of the Passion of Christ that is highly venerated in Rome.

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Plenary indulgence

The APOSTOLIC PENTENTIARY grants a PLENARY INDULGENCE every day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy to the penitent faithful who, inspired by love, climb the Scala Santa on their knees while meditating on the Passion of Jesus and recite the Creed, one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory be and a prayer for the intention of the Pope, and also go to Confession and received Holy Communion.

Those individuals who are physically impeded from climbing the Scala Santa can receive the same PLENARY INDULGNENCE by meditating on the Passion of Jesus while at the Scala Santa, and recite the Creed, one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory be and a prayer for the intention of the Pope, and also go to Confession and received Holy Communion. Indulgence is applicable to the dead.

Founder

St. Paul of the Cross, originally named Paolo Danei, was born in Ovada, province of Alessandria, on January 4, 1694 and died in Rome on October 18, 1775. Paul was strongly attracted in Christ crucified, and with ardent devotion founded the first Passionists community with the inspiration of living an evangelical life and proclaiming the love of God that was revealed in the Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul, seeing the spiritual difficulties during his time stood firm on his preaching of the most efficacious remedy that was conveyed by Christ’s passion which is “the greatest and stupendous work of the Divine Love.” The Catholic Church acknowledged that the vision of Paul came through the intercession of the Holy Spirit, and entrusted him on his mission of devoting his entire life in proclaiming Christ’s Passion.

Benedict XIV approved the Rules of the Congregation in 1741.
The first house of the Institute was opened in Monte Argentario, a swampy coastland of Tuscany and in the south of Lazio. St. Paul of the Cross was canonized by Pius IX in 1867.

The 150 years of the Scala Santa

By the Apostolic Constitution INTER PLURIMA TEMPLA on February 24,1854, Pope Pius IX does not only interfered to define the legal- Administration problem of the Sanctuary and the Chapel of Sancta Sanctorum, which has been subject to controversy for a very long period of time, but also entrusted the custody and the properties of the Convent to the Passionists.

It was not an easy course for Papa Mastai to resolve the questions pertaining to the responsibilities of work and maintenance and the settlements of the Sanctuary among the various organizations who are running it because each one of them hold the challenge in honor of the upkeeps of this grand and complex construction. The Pope himself take a heart to personally asked Architect Giovanni Azzuri to be assigned in the restoration project of the residence that has been subject to the custody of the Sanctuary. Pius issued the notice of his decision that has already been said in the Apostolic Constitution DECET ROMANUM PONTEFICEM on June 13, 1853.

On September 28, 1853, the Passionists became the legal custodian of the Sanctuary “In Perpetuum”, that was written by Pius IX. And for 160 years, they are taking care of the Sanctuary of the Passion of Christ that is highly venerated in Rome.

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