Ashes to Ashes
21 images Created 2 Mar 2012
Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent for Roman Catholics. Even though it is not a holy day, people visit the church to have their forehead marked with a cross of ashes as a sign of repentance and a symbol of mortality. The ashes come from the burning of the palms from the previous Palm Sunday. They are mixed with anointing oil to ensure they stick to the skin. The priest applies the ashes with his thumb as he says "Remember you are dust and to dust you will return", a phrase based on what God tells Adam in Genesis 3:19. According to the Old Testament, those who repented their sins fasted, wore sackcloth and sat in dirt and ashes. The ashes must stay on the forehead and wear off naturally. The ritual has been gaining popularity again in Ireland.