Tour of San Giovanni and the Lateran area IN ENGLISH
This time our tour will take us to Rome's official cathedral, the most important of Rome's 4 papal basilicas, which stands on land donated to the church by the emperor Constantine in the 4th century AD.
As well as the basilica, we will be going across the road to the Holy Steps (Scala Santa), said to be the steps that led to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem which Jesus walked on his way to the Crucifixion and which the Empress Helena brought back with her from her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Even today, many pilgrims to Rome continue the tradition of climbing the steps on their knees.
At the top of the steps is the Sancta Sanctorum, the personal chapel of the early popes, which we have special permission to enter during our tour. Inside there are the bones of 13 different saints and an icon said to have been started by St. Luke and finished by an angel.
If there is time, we will continue along the road to the Church of the Holy Cross (Basilica di Santa Croce). This church houses a number of the other relics St. Helena brought to Rome, including a piece of the True Cross, 2 thorns from the Crown of Thorns and a nail. Beneath the church is the private chapel of St. Helena, whose imperial palace once stood on the site.
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