(NEXSTAR/WJW) – Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent for Christian observers, and this year, there will be some new traditions due to COVID-19.
According to the Vatican News, rather than the priest touching each individual’s head to mark a cross with ashes, he will instead bless the ashes once and then sprinkle them on each worshipper’s head without saying an individual blessing to each person.
The priest also will wear a face mask while doing so.
The new method is meant to limit contact.
“The health situation caused by Covid-19 continues to forces changes on daily life, which are also reflected in the Church’s sphere,” the Vatican News said.
The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made humans, according to belief. The tradition of wearing an ash cross on the forehead is a visible symbol of penance.
The religious observance of Lent, the liturgical season of fasting and prayer, begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts about six weeks, ending the night before Easter Sunday.