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Vatican visitors are in for a once-in-a-lifetime treat this Holy Week.
The Holy Stairs — known in Latin as Scala Sancta — where it is believed Jesus walked while on his way up to be judged by Pontius Pilate before his crucifixion, will be open to the public for the first time in 300 years.
The Catholic Church has kept the stairs hidden under wooden planks for centuries, CNN reported, but for the next two months, the original marble will be exposed following the completion of an extensive restoration project.
The site is especially sacred for the faithful because of three places on the 28 steps where it is said that drops of Jesus’ blood fell. Each spot is marked with a cross.
“The Gospel of John recounts that Jesus went up these stairs several times,” Father Francesco Guerra, Rector of the Holy Stairs, told CNN.
Tradition (in lieu of official documentation) states that Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine, was an avid collector of relics believed to have been significant in Jesus’s life and it was she who had the steps shipped from Jerusalem in the 4th century.
“We know for certain that St. Helen transported the nails used to crucify Jesus and a portion of his cross, to a church near here,” said Guerra.
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