A medieval tradition claims that La Scala Sancta (adjacent to the Lateran Palace) was a staircase in Jerusalem that Jesus climbed up when he went to the house of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. St. Helena is credited with bringing these steps to Rome in the 4th century. (She is called "the great mover of relics" in Lucentini's guide book to Rome.)
For centuries, La Scala Santa has attracted Christian pilgrims who wished to honor the Passion of Jesus. It consists of 28 marble steps and all who wish to ascend must go on their knees.
Note: Pope Pius IX climbed La Scala Sancta on his knees on September 19, 1870, as a plea for God's protection on the day before the Italian troops entered Rome. (The Pope was 78 years old.)a