The Sancta Sanctorum (Italian: Chiesa di San Lorenzo in Palatio ad Sancta Sanctorum) is a Roman Catholic chapel entered via the Scala Sancta (Holy Staircase) of the Lateran Palace in Rome. It was the original private chapel of the papacy before it moved to Avignon, and later to the Vatican Palace. The chapel is the only building from the old Lateran Palace that was not destroyed during its reconstruction.
The spelling is Sancta, the neuter plural form of the Latin adjective "holy": this is a reference to the multiple relics preserved there (i.e. "the most holy things") and to the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem, traditionally called in Latin both sanctum sanctorum (the singular form) or sancta sanctorum.
The chapel contains a wooden reliquary box, which supposedly houses the bones of at least 13 saints (which is where the chapel derives the name "holy of holies"). The reliquary box itself is taken to represent the Ark of the Covenant in Solomon's Temple.
- The image of St Francis: responses to sainthood in the thirteenth century - Page 352 Rosalind B. Brooke - 2006 "The vault of the Sancta Sanctorum is blue with gold stars, to represent the firmament, and so are the vaults of the transepts and apse at Assisi. The symbols of the Evangelists holding open books, each with an appropriate gospel text,"
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