The Holy Stairs Jesus is believed to have climbed before being sentenced to crucifixion have been unveiled after three long centuries.
The Holy Staircase or Scala Sancta had been encased in protective maple woods since 1723 to keep the steps protected from years of use.
After the stairs have been stripped back and restored, pilgrims now flock the scene to see the 28 holy steps. There are three small bronze crosses embedded in the marble and some spots are believed to be Christ’s blood.
Some 300 years ago, the stairs were covered under the orders of Pope Innocent XIII to prevent it from getting worn out by the knees and hands of worshippers, who caused a dip in the stone of around 15cm in some areas.
The stairs were believed to be part of Pontius Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem and were transferred to Rome in the fourth century AD by the mother of Emperor Constantine, Helena.
After a year of restoration, the steps have been opened to pilgrims and will stay open to the public until June 9.
The Holy Stairs are now housed in an old papal palace in St. John’s Square in southeast Rome. An unveiling ceremony was held marked by the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Angelo De Donatis.
The steps were last opened in the 50s and during the opening this year, experts from Vatican Museums discovered notes shoved under the planks.
Paolo Violini, the restoration’s coordinator, said: “We found them step by step as we removed the floorboards – many, many little notes and coins, left as offerings.”
Guido Cornini, a curator from museums, said: “If you close your eyes for a moment, you can imagine yourself back in the medieval era, the last time that people scaled these steps on their knees.”
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