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The Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs: sacredness and beauty

2 minutes

Located behind Farnese Palace, right next to the 14th-century St Paul's Church, the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs in Campli (Teramo) attracts thousands of faithful followers every year, who flock to discover places of worship with an evocative tradition and a fascinating history.

Traditionally, you climb the 28 hard oak steps, in a magical setting of unexpected beauty, on your knees to be forgiven of your sins.

A reinterpretation of the Passion of Christ

A reinterpretation of the Passion of Christ

The Sanctuary is a popular pilgrimage destination thanks to the “Scala Santa” (Holy Stairs), granted the same acknowledgement as the famous Holy Stairs in Rome by Pope Clement XIV in 1772.

Focusing on the Passion of Christ, the penitent can symbolically retrace the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. The steps represent the 28 steps Jesus climbed on his knees to go before Pontius Pilate.

It is said that St Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, had the original Sanhedrin stairs dismantled and taken to Rome in 326 AD, following one of her pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

Religion and art

Religion and art

On top of its religious significance, Campli’s Sanctuary is a renowned cradle of art and culture, a perfect example being the stunning 16th-century entranceway worked into diamond tips, originally from the Church of Sant'Onofrio.

Images of angels bearing the symbols of the Passion adorn the ceiling above the steps. It is at once a path of penance and an enthralling journey, thanks to the wonderful works of art. At the top of the stairs is the Sancta Sanctorum chapel, the beating heart of the building.

An iron grate allows a glimpse of the statues of the Dead Christ and Our Lady of Sorrows. Neapolitan artistic reliquaries also house fragments of the True Cross and other relics of saints.

You can descend down another staircase, decorated with medallions depicting scenes from the Resurrection of Christ. The Sanctuary has a palpable atmosphere of spirituality, without pomp and circumstance, and a simple Franciscan look, as the ambience was, and is, meant to encourage undisturbed prayer and recollection. 

Plenary Indulgence at the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs in Campli

Plenary Indulgence at the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs in Campli

The days of Plenary Indulgence at the Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs of Campli are:

  • every Friday of Lent (by concession of the papal bull of Pope Saint John Paul II of 14 January 2000)
  • third Sunday of Easter (from first Vespers on Saturday to Vespers on Monday)
  • the historic Good Friday Procession in Campli: Easter Friday evening.
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