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Ash Wednesday

The first day of Lent.* It is so called from the custom in the ancient church and continued in the Roman Catholic Church of marking the foreheads of worshipers with ashes which have been previously blessed. The appointment of [[Ash Wednesday]] as the first day of Lent occurred sometime in the seventh century and the custom of imposing the ashes upon the congregation probably from sometime in the eighth century. The significance of this rite is based on the OT where we often find imposition of ashes as a sign of penitence and mourning. In the early church, Christians who had fallen into grave sin were admitted to the “order of penitents” to do their penances so that they could be reconciled to the church in Holy Week ready for their Easter Communion. The widespread use of this form of public penance decreased in the early [[Middle Ages]], but the ceremonies associated with it-notably the ashes-were extended to the whole congregation. In the Roman Church the ashes are obtained by burning