Local Christians on Wednesday joined their counterparts around the world in marking the beginning of Lent with the traditional distribution of ashes.
Ash Wednesday is recognized by Roman Catholics and other Christians as the official start to the holiest period of the liturgical year. The 40 days of Lent culminates with Holy Week and Easter Sunday, the latter of which is celebrated as the resurrection of Jesus.
The ashes, which are applied by a priest or Eucharistic minister to the forehead of the parishioner in the shape of a cross, traditionally come from palm fronds that are collected on the previous Palm Sunday and then burned.
Holy Family Catholic Church in Glendale celebrated six services Wednesday in order to accommodate its parishioners and grade school and high school students.
The Lenten season is representative of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public ministry, the Rev. John Bosco Musinguzi said. It also evokes the 40 years that the Israelites spent wandering the desert during their journey to the Promised Land, he added.