Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent for Western Christian churches. It’s a day of penitence to clean the soul before the Lent fast. Roman Catholic and other churches hold special services at which the faithful walk up to the priest to be marked with ashes as a symbol of sorrow for sin. This practice draws on the ancient Biblical traditions of covering one’s head with ashes, wearing sackcloth, and fasting.

The use of ashes, made by burning palm crosses from the previous Palm Sunday, is very symbolic.

The rite takes place at every Mass at St George’s basilica and especially at the very popular High Concelebrated Mass at 18.00.