The word gradual comes from Latin word for stair. A famous papal sanctuary located adjacent to the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, the Holy Staircase is believed to be the actual steps that Jesus climbed the day He was sentenced to death. Tradition holds that the stairs were ordered sent from Jerusalem to Rome by Saint Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine in 334 A.D. Though not completely documented, this has been believed for over 1,200 years, since it was first mentioned in papal documents in 844. The stairs are known as the Scala Pilati (Pilate’s stairway) or the Scala Sancti (holy stairway).

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