Scala Santa, Chapel of Sancta Sanctorum and Triclinium of old Lateran Palace

"Scala Santa, Chapel of Sancta Sanctorum and Triclinium of old Lateran Palace" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Friday 15th July 2011

From the old Lateran Palace (Palazzo Laterano/ Palazzo Lateranense) constructions remained after imperial Rome there are three survived and located in one building built by D.Fontana in 1589. These monuments are: Scala Santa, Chapel of the Sancta Sanctorum and Triclinium.

Scala Santa (holy staircase) of old Lateran Palace.
Starting from the middle of the 15th century the staircase from the old Lateran Palace was identified with the staircase of Pilate's house which Christ descended after his condemnation, so it was given the name of "Scala Santa" which means "Holy Staircase". A legend related how it had been brought from Jerusalem to Rome by St Helena, mother of Constantine.

The Scala Santa (“holy staircase”) was originally the staircase of honour of the Patriarchate and was later used to access the popes’ private chapel, the Sancta Sanctorum, situated on the first floor of the Building. From the mid 15th century the staircase was thought to be the one that Jesus of Nazareth ascended in Pontius Pilate’s Praetorium during his trial. Today the staircase leads off from an atrium adorned with marble groups and has frescoed side walls and vault depicting stories from the Old and New Testament. According to religious rite, the 28 marble steps covered by wooden boards must be climbed by the faithful on their knees.

There are 28 marble steps protected by wooden boards located in the center of other four staircases, and it is the only one in Rome which is permitted to be ascend only on the knees of worshipers. In the vestibule are the 19th century sculptures by I.Iacometti. The vault and walls of the Scala Santa and the side staircases were decorated at the end of the 16th century under the direction of Giovanni Guerra and C.Nebbia.
Scala Santa, Sancta Sanctorum - Chapel of St Laurence or San Lorenzo in Palatio. Inside the Sancta Sanctorum, or Chapel of St Laurence or San Lorenzo in Palatio.
The stairs lead to the Sancta Sanctorum (English: Holy of Holies), the personal chapel of the early Popes in the Lateran palace, known as the chapel of St. Lawrence. The church is accessible through the HolyStair, which is believed to be the one in front of the Praetorium of Ponzio Pilato, which climbed by Jesus Christ climbed during the trial.

At the top is this Sancta Sanctorum, or Chapel of St Laurence or San Lorenzo in Palatio, the private chapel of the pope, which preserved the most sacred relics, removed from the old Lateran Palace and built in the epoch of Constantine. It was first mentioned in the Liber Pontificalis in the 8th century, and it was rebuilt in 1278. It is never open, and contains frescoes and mosaics carried out for Nicolas III, restored for the first time in 1995. Along the walls of the chapel there are 28 Gothic tabernacles containing the relics. On of them preserves a relic which gives the chapel its particular sanctity.
climbed by the faithful climb at Chapel of Sancta Sanctorum (St. Lawrence) of old Lateran Palace.
This is an ancient painting on wood of Christ which could date from 6th-7th century (many times repainted and restored). It is said to have been begun by St Luke and an angel: hence its name "Acheiropoeton", or the picture made without hands. To conserve and carry in procession this relic was created a famous Arch-brotherhood of SS.Salvatore which gave birth to the near by standing hospital of St John, and which was always one of the most powerful religious organizations of Rome.

The chapel has a beautiful Cosmatesque pavement, and the ceiling decorated with mosaics. The other rooms in the building have been occupied by a Passionist convent since 1953.

The entire construction was designed by Domenico Fontana in 1589, and is made up of the Sancta Santorum, and the Holy Stair, which according to tradition is climbed by the faithful climb up kneeling on their knees. The church has a rectangular plan. On the left there is a fresco by P. Franchi, and the passage, which leads to the Sancta Sanctorum. The church is frescoed with paintings of the “ Santissima Trinità e dei Dottori della Chiesa”.

To the east of the Scala Santa is the Tribune erected by F.Fuga for Benedict XIV in 1743 and decorated with good copies of the mosaics from the Triclinium (Triclinio Leoniano) of St.Leo III, the banqueting hall of the old Lateran Palace. A fragment of the original mosaic is in the Museum of Christian Art in Vatican Now - Vatican Historical Museum (Museo Storico Vaticano) .
Triclinium of old Lateran Palace. inside interior of the Triclinium (Triclinio Leoniano)
An apse lined with mosaics and open to the air still preserves the memory of one of the most famous halls of the ancient palace, the "Triclinium (Triclinio Leoniano)" of Leo III, which was the state banqueting hall. The existing structure is not ancient, but it is possible that some portions of the original mosaics have been preserved. The subject is threefold. In the centre Christ gives their mission to the Apostles, on the left he gives the keys to St. Sylvester and the Labarum to Constantine, while on the right St. Peter gives the stole to Leo III and the standard to Charlemagne. The private rooms of the popes in the old palace were situated between this "Triclinium" and the city walls.

Scala Santa, Chapel of Sancta Sanctorum and Triclinium of old Lateran Palace
Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano
00184, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Monti (Colosseo - S.Giovanni - S.Maria Maggiore) (Roma centro)/ Rione Esquilino (Termini - Via Nazionale) (Roma centro)
Scala Santa, Chapel of Sancta Sanctorum and Triclinium of old Lateran Palace is Shown By "Map L Zone" As "15"

Contact - Scala Santa (Holy Staircase)

Hours: From 1 April to 20 September every day 6.15am-12am and 3.30am-6.30pm. From 1 October to 31 March every day 6.15am-12am and 3pm-6pm.
Entrance: Ticket: From €3.50 to €5.00.
Telephone: 0039 06 7726641
Telephone reservation: 0039 06 7726641

Contact - Sancta Sanctorum, or Chapel of St Laurence or San Lorenzo in Palatio

Hours: Every day 6.00am-12.30pm 3.00pm-6.00pm except on Wednesday morning and on Sunday. Masses: Weekdays 6.30am 7.00am 9.00am 10.00am 5.30pm (Oct-Mar) 6.00pm (Apr-Sept), Holidays 7.30am 8.30am 10.00am 11.30am 5.30pm (Oct-Mar) 6.00pm (Apr-Sept).
Telephone: 0039 06 7726641
Fax: 0039 06 772664219
Email: or
For events contact ALTAIR:

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