Visitors can climb same stairs that Jesus once climbed

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CNN (CNN) - Visitors to Rome this Easter can have a once-in-a-lifetime experience: climbing the original stairs that Jesus is said to have walked on his way up to be judged by Pontius Pilate before his crucifixion.

Drops of Jesus' blood, that are said to have fallen on the steps, are marked in 3 places; tourists go up on their knees in an act of devotion and recount their emotional experience.

These are the stairs that Jesus once climbed, according to Catholic tradition, when he was brought up to be judged by Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate before his crucifixion.

Fr. Francesco Guerra said, "The Gospel of John recounts that Jesus went up these stairs several times."

The rector of the holy stairs, Fr. Francesco Guerra says, they were brought to Rome from Jerusalem in the 4th century

For the first time in centuries, visitors to Rome can climb the original 28 stairs thanks to a recent restoration that removed wooden planks that had covered the stairs for 300 years and turned up a surprising discovery: deep grooves in the marble caused by centuries of wear and tear from the knees and feet of pilgrims and drops of Jesus' blood that are said to have fallen on the steps - marked by medieval crosses in 3 places.

Frank Scherra, a U.S. Soldier stationed in Germany who climbed the stairs with his 6 children, explains what the devotional act means to him.

"Time to reflect and think about people that had an impact on my faith and my family and those that i know are in heaven or trying to get there; a chance to pray for them."

Others have recounted stories of conversions and deeply emotional experiences from their climb.

At the top of the stairs is a room called the Holy of Holies.

It was once a private chapel of Popes and it contains relics of saints and one of the oldest icons of Jesus found in Rome, dating to the 5th century.

The stairs will soon be covered over again with wood to protect the marble, but for the next few weeks visitors to Rome can literally walk or at least kneel, in what are believed to be the original footsteps of Jesus.

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