November 21, 2012


After attending the Canonization of San Pedro Calungsod in Vatican, I told my sister in law that I wanted to visit The Scala Sancta located just opposite of the Basilica Di San Giovanni in Laterano. 
a very simple facade to a very important religious site
The Scala Sancta sometimes spelled as Scala Santa or  Holy Stairs in English  is believed to be   the steps that led up to the Praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, which Jesus Christ stood on during his Passion on his way to trial.
 According to the  legend, the Holy Stairs were brought from Jerusalem to Rome in the 4th century by St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.
 I was having second thoughts in climbing  the Holy Stairs on my knees because I have a sciatica on my left knee. I did anyway after seeing older persons doing it.  It was a humbling experience. I was praying and almost cried while ascending.It was painful in my knees but but as I went up higher i felt lesser  pain. 
 The twenty-eight white marble steps  is now encased in protective  wooden steps but some parts of the original marble steps can be seen through the wood. There were some steps stained by blood of Christ. These blood-stained steps   covered with gold plated metals and glass. 

blood stained step protected by gold metallic casing

  At the top of the Scala Santa is the The stairs lead to the Sancta Sanctorum or  Holy of Holies. It is the personal chapel of the early Popes in the Lateran Palace, known as the chapel of St. Lawrence.

  For other visitors who do not wish to climb  with their knees, there are   other "less holy stairs" located at either side of the  Holy Stairs. I saw some pilgrims who used these stairs to climb, then they would kneel at the top of the Holy Stairs where there is another blood stained step.
 Inside the very simple building is another chapel dedicated to Padre Amantini located just at the  back of the Sancta Sanctorum.The remains of Padre Candido Amantini a well known Exorcist was transferred here on March 21, 2012. He was named " The Servant of God" and is now being considered for beatification, opposite his relic is a beautiful altar.

November 13, 2012


A day before my 9 day Thailand trip I did a side trip to  Orvieto from Rome.
 The city of Orvieto   in the Province of Terni in Umbria region is situated on the flat summit of a large volcanic tuff. A volcanic tuff is defined asrock composed of compacted volcanic ash varying in size from fine sand to coarse gravel.It is also called tufa. They used Tufa, stone made of the vulcanic tuffs, to built a defensive wall on its perimeter.
 Among the famous landmarks in the city are the following:

Orvieto's Duomo(cathedral) - this impressive church with its lively facade is known for the blood-stained cloth.Old story says that  In the 1260s, a skeptical priest — who doubted that the bread used in communion was really the body of Christ — passed through Bolsena (a few miles from Orvieto) while on a pilgrimage to Rome. During Mass, the bread bled, staining a linen cloth. The cloth was brought to the Pope, who was visiting Orvieto at the time and they build the magnificent church the  miraculous relic. Photography is not allowed inside the Cathedral but I managed to snap a couple of shots before someone told me not to take photos.
the best shot i got inside the church

the beautiful facade at night
    The Capella di San Brizion( Chapel of St. Brizio ) on the right side of the church features frescoes of    the    Apocalypse by the famous artist,   Luca Signorelli.
my blurred stolen shot of St. Brizio chapel
  The  white and greenish-black stripes painted church is open daily starting at 7:30AM
   Museo Claudio Faina e Museo Civico(Archaeological Museum). The work of Emilio Greco, the Sicilian artist who designed the modern doors of Orvieto's Cathedral is on this display here.
  Parco delle Grotte(Underground city)  is Orvieto's long kept secret.  It is a labyrinth of with Etruscan tunnels and medieval caves. It is only accessible through guided tours to preserve the area and to avoid visitors getting lost  mainly because of its intricate tunnels, passageways and numerous small square niches.
courtyard beside the church
  Pozzo di S. Patrizio( St. Patrick's Well) this 16th century deep well  of 175 feet deep and 45 feet wide  not only impresses tourists but also modern engineers. Two spiral stairways  with a total of 496 steps allow an efficient one-way traffic flow on its double helix design.

     The well was built  after Rome was overrun  by renegade troops of the Holy Roman Empire in 1527. The pope  who fled to Orvieto feared that the  town with no water source on top would be besieged too so  He commissioned a well. It was completed after 10 years.
  Palazzo dei SIgnori Sette E Torre del Moro- This palace serves as exhibitions and events hall. It used to be the site of the Signori Sette( a group of judges) and residence of some pontiffs. Tourist can climb at the top of the tower. 
 Torre di Maurizio -This clock tower was originally a sundial  is one of the oldest clock in Italy.

Chiesa di Sant'Andrea. It is a Romanesque Gothic style church with a dodecagonal tower located at the Piazza della Republica.
  San Giovenale Church - the oldest church in Orvieto built in 1004.
  Palazzo E Chiesa di San Giovanni. It was originally the convent of the Lateranensi. Today, its the Palazzo del Gusto and Enoteca Regionale( Regional wine cellar).
 The city's well preserved  its Etruscan ruins and the remnants of the wall that enclosed the city more than 2000 years ago . It is included in the  tentative list of the Unesco World Heritage Sites.

Going around the city, tourist can take the small buses or better yet go on foot. As one walks further away  from the city center to the edge a  passageway surrounding the town and  a beautiful view  of the Umbrian region awaits visitors. We were lucky that we met a  kind local couple who told us to walk further and explore  the breathtaking view of the region.

a beautiful scenery on the road less travelled by tourists

Aside from the beautiful architecture of the city,  Orvieto  is also known for its  ceramics and  Classico wine.
 The funicular ride   up to Orvieto is an experience in itself. Another way is to take the elevator for visitors who prefer to take their car with them. 

How to go to Orvieto from Rome:
Fastest way from Rome is to take the Regional trains and alight at the Orvieto station, cross the street and take the funicular.
the funicular station(partly hidden by 2 white vans)photo taken accross the train station