The sacred staircase Scala Santa, said to be connected to one of the key episodes in the New Testament, has been restored to its original state after being covered with wood for centuries. The steps, believed to have been brought from Jerusalem in the fourth century AD, was covered in 1723 on orders from Pope Innocent XIII over fears it would be worn out by millions of pilgrims.
Christians from all over the world attempted to crawl up the staircase on their hands and knees, repeating the path of Jesus Christ, who is said to have climbed it before Pontius Pilate sentenced him to death by crucifixion. Those believers who make it to the top of the staircase are promised indulgences. According to The Telegraph, this has resulted in the partial destruction of the relic as its steps have been worn down to a depth of 15 centimetres in some places.
Experts from the Vatican Museums have not only removed the planks, concealing the holy steps, but also cleaned the marble underneath as well as 16th-century frescoes on the walls.
Restoring the staircase, Violini also discovered messages from the past, hidden in cracks and pleading for the relief of illnesses and family tragedies.
“We found them step by step as we removed the floorboards – many, many little notes and coins, left as offerings”, coordinator of the restoration Paolo Violini said as cited by the outlet.
What is more important, they also discovered three ancient bronze red-stone crosses, marking drop of Christ’s blood, according to the legend.
In an unprecedented move, the relic is to remain open for 60 days during the Easter period until 9 June when it will be concealed again.