Image: A boys receives a cross of ashes during service

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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.

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Image: Cardinal Timothy Dolan distributes ashes on Ash Wednesday

Cardinal Timothy Dolan distributes ashes on Ash Wednesday at St. Patrick's Cathedral on in New York City.
Andrew Renneisen / Getty Images
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Image: A Pastor places ashes on the forehead of a child accompanied by his mother

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
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Image: A boys receives a cross of ashes during service

A boys receives a cross of ashes during service at the 20 de Julio Church in Bogota, Colombia.
JOHN VIZCAINO / Reuters
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Image: Filipinos with cross markings on their forehead as they attend a Holy Mass

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
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Image: Pope Francis leads the Ash Wednesday mass

Pope Francis leads the Ash Wednesday mass in Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican City.
ANGELO CARCONI / EPA
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A woman covers her face during prayer while she attends Mass at the San Francisco church in La Paz, Bolivia,
Juan Karita / AP
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Image: Members of the Alegre brotherhood stand with a small coffin during a mock funeral procession

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
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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
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Image: A Catholic nun places ashes in the shape of a cross on a street vendor's forehead

A Catholic nun places ashes in the shape of a cross on a street vendor's forehead in Bogota, Colombia.
Fernando Vergara / AP
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