Praying the Steps on the Stairway to Heaven

In Mt. Adams, hundreds of Catholics make the midnight trek up the steps to Immaculata Church every Good Friday.
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Photograph by Hatsue

It’s a local tradition as old as Skyline Chili and the Cincinnati Reds. Every Good Friday, like clockwork, hundreds of Catholics make the midnight trek up the steps from St. Gregory Street in Mt. Adams to the doors of Holy Cross Immaculata Parish to go through the quiet motions of “Praying the Steps.”

The 85 stone stairs aren’t necessarily a walk in the park for your quads. But for the faithful who want to better understand the true meaning of suffering, here’s a tip: Start at the actual beginning of the steps. That’s right—the iconic Mt. Adams steps actually begin farther south at Adams Crossing, marked by a classical revival stone arch made from Dayton-quarried limestone.

Make your way through the archway and begin the official ascent, which weaves over Columbia Parkway. In the summer, this part of the steps can get jungle-y, but you’ll emerge victorious (read: sweaty) at the Celestial and Hill Overlook before inevitably ending up in the line to ascend to the church. But look at it this way: After that StairMaster of a journey, the last 85 steps should be a piece of cake.

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