ROME - One of the Catholic Church's holiest relics in Rome, the Santa Scala or Holy Stairs, have been cleaned and restored.
The 28 white marble steps are supposedly those that Jesus Christ ascended to his trial before the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. Pilgrims traditionally ascend on their knees, touching only the wood that protects the steps.
Through holes in the wood, pilgrims can see drops of what is supposed to be Jesus' blood on the marble.
But those who worked on the steps during the restoration found that not all visitors have treated them respectfully, The Telegraph reported.
"We found chewing gum stuck to the wood of the stairs," said Alessandra Scerrato, the secretary of the Friends of the Holy Stairs.
Frescoes commissioned by Pope Sixtus VI in the 16th century have also been restored. Much of the funding came from the Getty Foundation, which contributed around $600,000.
Not all visitors have been impressed by the stairs. Charles Dickens called the practice of kneeling "unpleasant," and Martin Luther -- who climbed the steps on his knees when he was a monk -- went on to break from Catholicism.
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