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The faithful celebrate Ash Wednesday

| Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, 1:48 p.m.
St. James School kindergartner Landrie Webre watches a parishioner receive ashes during an Ash Wednesday Mass at St. James Church on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
St. James School kindergartner Landrie Webre watches a parishioner receive ashes during an Ash Wednesday Mass at St. James Church on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Chet Kwiatkowski, 72, of O'Hara, receives ashes Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, from the Rev. Ben Phipps, pastor of Roots of Faith in Sharpsburg. Roots of Faith is part of Fox Chapel-based Faith United Methodist Church.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Chet Kwiatkowski, 72, of O'Hara, receives ashes Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, from the Rev. Ben Phipps, pastor of Roots of Faith in Sharpsburg. Roots of Faith is part of Fox Chapel-based Faith United Methodist Church.
The Rev. Ben Phipps, pastor of of Roots of Faith in Sharpsburg, gives ashes and a blessing to Ron Burleigh, 47, of Mt. Oliver, on Main Street in Sharpsburg on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Roots of Faith is part of Faith United Methodist Church in Fox Chapel.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
The Rev. Ben Phipps, pastor of of Roots of Faith in Sharpsburg, gives ashes and a blessing to Ron Burleigh, 47, of Mt. Oliver, on Main Street in Sharpsburg on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Roots of Faith is part of Faith United Methodist Church in Fox Chapel.
Rev. John Smaligo conducts Ash Wednesday services at Harrold Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Greensburg.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Rev. John Smaligo conducts Ash Wednesday services at Harrold Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Greensburg.
St. James School first-grader Perry Gatch receives ashes during an Ash Wednesday Mass at St. James Church on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
St. James School first-grader Perry Gatch receives ashes during an Ash Wednesday Mass at St. James Church on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Rev. John Smaligo speaks with parishioners as they leave after attending Ash Wednesday services at Harrold Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Greensburg.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Rev. John Smaligo speaks with parishioners as they leave after attending Ash Wednesday services at Harrold Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Greensburg.
Deacon Sam Toney gives ashes to Jason Ott of Ohio Township on Ash Wednesday at St. Mary of Mercy downtown Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Deacon Sam Toney gives ashes to Jason Ott of Ohio Township on Ash Wednesday at St. Mary of Mercy downtown Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Rev. John Smaligo applies ash to the forehead of 7-week-old Aiden Nestor while being held by his mother, Jacki Nestor of Greensburg, during the imposition of ashes tradition for Ash Wednesday at Harrold Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Greensburg.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Rev. John Smaligo applies ash to the forehead of 7-week-old Aiden Nestor while being held by his mother, Jacki Nestor of Greensburg, during the imposition of ashes tradition for Ash Wednesday at Harrold Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Greensburg.
Deacon Sam Toney gives ashes to a woman on Ash Wednesday at St. Mary of Mercy in downtown Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Deacon Sam Toney gives ashes to a woman on Ash Wednesday at St. Mary of Mercy in downtown Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Lisa Flick receives a blessing from Revs. Gary and Lisa Lyon, co-pastors at Cross Roads Community Presbyterian Chruch on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Leechburg. Cross Roads Community is part of a nationwide movement that has church leaders offering 'Ashes to Go,' providing a new approach to meet the needs of the community in non-traditional ways.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Lisa Flick receives a blessing from Revs. Gary and Lisa Lyon, co-pastors at Cross Roads Community Presbyterian Chruch on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Leechburg. Cross Roads Community is part of a nationwide movement that has church leaders offering 'Ashes to Go,' providing a new approach to meet the needs of the community in non-traditional ways.
Deacon Sam Toney gives ashes to a man as another walks by on Ash Wednesday at St. Mary of Mercy downtown Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Deacon Sam Toney gives ashes to a man as another walks by on Ash Wednesday at St. Mary of Mercy downtown Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Parishioners, with foreheads adorned with ashen crosses, fold their hands in silence while others await the imposition of the ashes for Ash Wednesday service at  Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Greensburg.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Parishioners, with foreheads adorned with ashen crosses, fold their hands in silence while others await the imposition of the ashes for Ash Wednesday service at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Greensburg.
Bishop Edward Malesic administers ashen crosses on the foreheads of parishioners during the service for Ash Wednesday at  Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Greensburg. Traditionally, the ashes are issued along with clergy saying, 'Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.'
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Bishop Edward Malesic administers ashen crosses on the foreheads of parishioners during the service for Ash Wednesday at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in Greensburg. Traditionally, the ashes are issued along with clergy saying, 'Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.'
A parishioner makes his way into Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg during a rainy evening for Ash Wednesday services on Feb. 14, 2018 in Greensburg.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
A parishioner makes his way into Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg during a rainy evening for Ash Wednesday services on Feb. 14, 2018 in Greensburg.

Feb. 14 is Ash Wednesday, an important day on the Christian religious calendar. It marks the beginning of the Lenten season and involves having ashes placed on the forehead in the shape of a cross. Calendars can vary from one religious group to another. Placement of ashes on the forehead probably traces its origins to early church practice requiring a public show of penitence.

Here are five things to know about the holiday:

1.

The ashes placed on the forehead on Ash Wednesday normally come from the burned remains of the palm leaves of the previous year's Palm Sunday.

2.

For Roman Catholics, the imposition of ashes is part of the Ash Wednesday Mass. The ashes may be washed off after Mass, although many Catholics keep them on into the evening.

3.

The imposition of ashes is usually accompanied by the words, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

4.

The ashes are an outward observance signifying an interior attitude, according to the Vatican's " Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy ."

5.

Ashes as a sign of repentance is as old as the Old Testament , although in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. … But when you fast, put oil on your heads and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret."

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