The Sancta Scala (Holy Stairs) are thought to have led to the Praetorium or judgment hall of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem. Jesus could have climbed these 28 marble steps on His way to His trial before Pontius Pilate. Helena, Constantine the Great’s mother, brought the steps from Jerusalem in 326 AD and placed them in the church and palace of St. John Lateran. The marble steps are covered with wood for protection, and pilgrims are only allowed to ascend the stairs on their knees. Several popes have climbed the stairs on their knees. There is a suggested prayer for each step.
Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. … Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:28
Pilate went out to the crowd and told them that he found no fault with Jesus, but the crowd wanted Jesus crucified. Pilate had Jesus scourged. The soldiers twisted a crown made with sharp thorns and jammed it on Jesus’ head, put a purple robe on Him and slapped Him many times and mocked Him. The crowd got its way.
As I climbed the stairs on my knees, I thought of my Savior resolutely climbing those stairs, knowing that He was on His way to be beaten, mocked, crucified, and finally, take on my sin, my sickness and the rest of the world’s sin and sickness.
For the Lord GOD helps Me,
Therefore, I am not disgraced;
Therefore, I have set My face like flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed. Isaiah 50:7
The cross was a curse and the sin Jesus was about to take onto Himself was shameful; yet, Jesus was glorified in His sacrifice.
Kneeling on the first step (righthand corner in black blouse), I begin a transformative pilgrimage, “Thank You, Jesus, for Your great sacrifice.”
Second step, “Thank You, Jesus, for saving my soul.”
Step-by-step, pain pierces my knees. I wonder if I can really do this.
Prayers turn to praise and Scripture.
“Praise, You, Jesus, my Savior.”
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” Revelation 5:12
“Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.”
I linger on the last step. “Holy, Holy, Holy, are You, Lord God, Almighty, Who was and is and is to come.”
Worthy are You … to receive glory and honor and power; Revelation 4:11
I stand and gaze upon the people ascending the steps on their knees. Most heads are bowed. Many are softly praying. Some are raising their arms.
Reverence is in this place.
Twenty-eight marble steps covered in wood. Maybe Jesus climbed these steps towards His judgment. It doesn’t matter. The steps serve as a reminder of our Savior’s great sacrifice.
Outside the church, “Are you Catholic, Karen?”
I am a Christ follower who has just been reminded of the price of my sin.
Jesus, thank You for setting Your face like flint towards the cross. The curse of the cross has brought You honor. My Savior on the cross has brought Your followers mercy and eternal life. Worthy are You to receive honor, glory, and blessing!
What have been some of your moments of reverence?