In normal times, Catholics are marked by putting ashes on the foreheads of the faithful to mark the beginning of the lent period. However, the ritual will be observed differently this year.
The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments has asked priests to take special anti-COVID-19 precautions this year when distributing ashes on Ash Wednesday which will be observed this week on February 17.
The guidelines issued in a short note titled; ‘the distribution of ashes in time of the pandemic’ directs priests to sprinkle the ashes with holy water on the head of each one rather than the traditional marking of foreheads.
According to the note, the priest will be required to cleanse his hands, put on a face mask, and distribute the ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places.