Hundreds gathered at St Chad’s Cathedral this lunchtime (Wed 6 March) to attend the Ash Wednesday service.

A further service will be held at 6pm this evening, all are welcome.

The Ash Wednesday service is taking place in churches and schools across the Archdiocese to mark the start of the Lenten season.

The sign of the cross is made with ashes on the forehead, accompanied by the words: “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Lent is traditionally a 40-day fast — a reference to the time Jesus spent being tempted in the desert.

It is a time when we can prepare our hearts for the solemn remembrance of Jesus’ death.

It concludes and is followed by the Easter Sunday celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

The six-week period (excluding Sundays) is dedicated to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in preparation for the great celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery in the Easter Triduum.

Ash Wednesday is a penitent service that uses ash to mark the sign of the cross on the believer’s forehead, symbolising our sinful nature and need for salvation.

The Catholic Church usually uses the ashes of Palm Sunday branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service.

Archbishop Bernard's Homily

Prayer for Ash Wednesday
Taken from the Mass for Ash Wednesday:

Let us pray.
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting
this campaign of Christian service,
so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils,
we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Click here to visit dedicated prayer page, updated for the month of March.

Photo Gallery

Ash Wednesday, St Chad's Cathedral