Catholic Church

The Vatican Recommends Changes to Traditional Ash Wednesday Observances

Catholic Churches worldwide will be changing the way they give ashes due to COVID-19


The Vatican is advising Catholic churches across the world to conduct Ash Wednesday differently this year in order to be as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the past, Catholics would receive an individual blessing from the bishop and receive their ashes as a mark on their forehead.

The ashes serve as "an important observance for many as a sign of penance to help recipients develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice," the Catholic Diocese of Dallas said in a statement Wednesday.

Those administering ashes this year will be required to give one blessing to all and then they'll sprinkle the ashes with holy water. From there, the priests are asked to wash their hands and put on a face mask, and then, without speaking, sprinkle the ashes over the crown of the head of each parishioner rather than touching them on the forehead.

"This is not an innovation because of the pandemic, rather it is a practice that has roots deep in the tradition of the church, and is to this day the customary method of the distribution of ashes in many other countries including Italy and Poland," Most Reverend of Auxiliary Bishop of Dallas, Greg Kelley said.

The Church said Catholics wishing to receive ashes should check with their local parish for the schedule.

The Most Reverend Edward Burns, Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas, will lead the Ash Wednesday Mass at noon on Feb, 17 at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe located on 2215 Ross Avenue in Dallas.

The service will be live streamed on Facebook at

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