Ash Wednesday: The First Day of Lent Begins [PHOTOS]

 
on February 22 2012 2:40 AM
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Wednesday, Feb. 22, marks the start of Lent which occurs 46 days before Easter.

Filipino Catholics gathered to churches early Wednesday to celebrate the first day of Lent, a 40-day period of prayer and fasting for Christmas, by applying ash on their forehead.

Before the beginning public ministry, during which Jesus resisted temptation by Satan, he spent 40 days fasting in the desert, according to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

The name Ash Wednesday is derived from the practice of dabbing ash on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of mourning and repentance to God.

The ashes used for dabbing are generally collected after dried palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned.

However, this year churches are buying commercially produced ashes online.

“We just had a call 10 minutes ago,” Mark Gould, owner of Religious Supply Service in Davenport, Iowa told Los Angeles Times. “We’ve had them all day long.”

This practice is common among Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Episcopalians, United Methodists and Presbyterians.

Ash Wednesday

A Roman Catholic priest applies ashes in the sign of a cross to the forehead of a student during a mass in observance of Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 in a Catholic church in suburban Quezon City north of Manila, Philippines. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a time when Christians prepare for Easter through acts of penitence and prayer Press Association

Ash Wednesday

A Roman Catholic nun uses ash to mark a cross on the forehead of a believer during Ash Wednesday in front of a Catholic church in Paranaque city Feb. 22, 2012. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection and fasting which prepares believers for Jesus Christ's resurrection on Easter Sunday. Reuters

Ash Wednesday

Villagers dressed in costume block a road and ask for small gifts from a driver during a carnival in the village of Lazy pod Makytou, some 112 miles (180 km) northeast of Bratislava Feb. 18, 2012. Villagers wear masks during the annual carnival season called "Fasiangy" which takes place from Epiphany through Ash Wednesday in celebration of the end of winter and the coming of spring. Reuters

Ash Wednesday

Villagers dressed as Slovakia's Prime Minister Iveta Radicova (R) and Chairman of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union-Democratic Party (SDKU-DS) Mikulas Dzurinda walk during a carnival through the village of Lazy pod Makytou, some 112 miles (180 km) northeast of Bratislava Feb. 18, 2012. Villagers wear masks during the annual carnival season called "Fasiangy" which takes place from Epiphany through Ash Wednesday in celebration of the end of winter and the coming of spring. Reuters

Ash Wednesday

Villager dressed as a gypsy puts on lipstick during a carnival in the village of Lazy pod Makytou, some 112 miles (180 km) northeast of Bratislava Feb. 18, 2012. Villagers wear masks during the annual carnival season called "Fasiangy" which takes place from Epiphany through Ash Wednesday in celebration of the end of winter and the coming of spring. Reuters