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Christians Mark Ash Wednesday, Begin 40-day Lent Period

Ash Wednesday, marked yesterday, is the beginning of Lent, a solemn period of 40 days of prayer and self-denial leading up to Easter.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan distributes ashes on Ash Wednesday at St. Patrick's Cathedral on in New York City. Andrew Renneisen / Getty Images
A Pastor places ashes on the forehead of a child accompanied by his mother at St. John's Lutheran Church in Sacramento, Calif. Rich Pedroncelli / AP
A boys receives a cross of ashes during service at the 20 de Julio Church in Bogota, Colombia. JOHN VIZCAINO / Reuters
Filipinos with cross markings on their forehead are seen as they attend a Holy Mass at a church during Ash Wednesday in Baclaran, south of Manila, Philippines. FRANCIS R. MALASIG / EPA
Pope Francis leads the Ash Wednesday mass in Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican City. ANGELO CARCONI / EPA
A woman covers her face during prayer while she attends Mass at the San Francisco church in La Paz, Bolivia, Juan Karita / AP
Members of the Alegre brotherhood stand with a small coffin during a mock funeral procession in Madrid, Spain. The funeral procession traditionally marks the end of the religious carnival in Madrid and the beginning of Lent. Paul White / AP
A Pastor holds a seashell with ashes to be distributed in observance of Ash Wednesday at St. John's Lutheran Church in Sacramento, Calif. Rich Pedroncelli / AP
A Catholic nun places ashes in the shape of a cross on a street vendor's forehead in Bogota, Colombia. Fernando Vergara / AP