The Scala Santa are known to be the same steps that Jesus took to reach Pontius Pilate during his passion. Then, in the fourth century, it is reputed that the stairs were brought to Rome by St. Helena (the mother of Constantine). Since that time, pilgrims have visited the steps and climbed them on their knees. This obviously means a great deal of wear on these stone relics. Today they are protected by a casing of wood – but even so, recently, Mary Angela Schroth of the PAVM noted the wear and tear that the over 2 million penitents per year put on the stairwell and the surrounding chapel of San Lorenzo. In response, the Vatican Museums are coordinating a 10 year restoration project. As a part of this effort, the DC Chapter of the Vatican patrons recently invested in a laser that can clean stone, stucco, paintings, metal, and wood without damaging the precious artwork.
This labor of spiritual renewal, through a re reexamination of the relics of Christian history, is part of a pattern in current Church philosophy. “It’s an essential part of this new reform that’s going on right now in the church,” says Ms. Schroth in interview with EWTN News. Because the Holy Father has been an avid patron of the arts, it has meant renewed interest across the Catholic world. Pope Francis even attended an arts event this past October that raised awareness of the Patrons Office and our important restoration work.
With further Papal support, Schroth hopes the holy stairs inside the San Lorenzo Chapel will find the support they need to continue to “raise the faithful to a higher level” (no pun intended). Ms. Schroth is a keen advocate of how the arts are directly related to faith and eloquently pleaded her case in this interview.