The 28 Steps.

A venue in Rome where many tourists only photograph the participants, but do not take part themselves. For us the saying ‘When in Rome do as the Romans do’ rang very true. We did!

A friend and I were in Rome to keep up a family tradition. Stood in front of us was a building, which according our guidebook, was once regarded as ‘the holiest site on earth’.

The 28 Steps or the Scala Santa (Holy Steps) had been climbed by his grandmother and years later by his mother. Tradition says that the steps were brought from Pilate’s house in Jerusalem by the Empress Helena because they were the very steps that Jesus climbed on the day he was sentenced to death.

Side by side were three staircases, but for the middle one the ascent had to be on our knees. In fact there is a different prayer for each step. Martin Luther climbed half way, stood upright and walked back down.

Were we up for it? When it comes to family traditions there was obviously no choice.

The marble steps, each now covered with well worn wood to protect possible bloodstains, took us half an hours to climb. Our knees ached as we followed devout nuns and other pilgrims bowing and praying on each step. Did we do a Martin Luther? What do you think reader?

Nearing the top, using all our strength we dragged ourselves upwards. On reaching the final step we felt a tremendous feeling of something positive; difficult to explain, but those of you who have climbed these steps will know what I mean.

In this humble building, in the shadow of San Giovanni in Laterano, tranquility can be found in its purest sense. Would we both do it again? Definitely YES.

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