On this Good Friday, I remember last Friday when I visited the Scala Santa in Rome.
It is said in the 4th century, Emperor Constantine’s mom, Helena traveled to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage to the sites of Jesus’ life.
Being the emperor’s mom and an empress herself, gave her a ton of access. There she founded some major churches (like the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem) and brought back a number of relics—including the stairs of the praetorium that Jesus climbed to be condemned by Pilate.
Placed in Rome as stairs to the Pope’s private chapel (because of course lol), they became a pilgrimage location where pilgrims would climb on the knees.
Hundreds of years ago, worried about wear, the original steps were covered in wood. Until now. The wood was removed for restoration work and they decided to leave it off and open them to the public until the end of the Easter season before adding the covering again.
By just pure luck, I was in Rome when they reopened it last Thursday and able to visit on Friday morning. It wasn’t really a moment to snap pictures on the phone, so I took a quick one as I walked in. There are others online if you want to see detail.
So, as we look to celebrate Good Friday today, my mind takes me to these stairs trying to imagine what Jesus must have been thinking climbing them, knowing that condemnation awaited him