Wednesday, March 9, 2011 | 9:19 p.m. CST
COLUMBIA — Ash Wednesday, which was March 9 this year, marks the start of the liturgical season of Lent, a time of solemn preparation for Easter.
An Ash Wednesday service traditionally involves the imposition of ashes; a church leader marks attendees' foreheads with ashes as a symbol of penance and a reminder of human mortality. People in some religious traditions observe Lent, which begins 40 days before Easter not including Sundays, with prayer, fasting or giving up something.
Mass attendees extend their hands as they say the Lord's Prayer on Ash Wednesday at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.
Mason Justice Davis waits his turn to have ashes placed on his head at the 5:30 p.m. Ash Wednesday service at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. In the Catholic tradition people 14 and older abstain from meat, and people ages 18 to 59 fast in observance of Ash Wednesday.
Lay Minister Bob Edwards marks Linda McLeod's forehead with ashes at the 5:30 p.m. Ash Wednesday service at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, the liturgical season that begins 40 days before Easter, not including Sundays, and involves prayer and fasting.