Millions of Christians worldwide will usher in the 40-day season of Lent by imposing the sign of the cross on their foreheads with ash on Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday, which falls 46 days before Easter – 40 if not counting Sundays – marks the beginning of a season of reflection and penitence for Christians of the Western traditions.

“Through the traditional practices of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, which are an expression of our commitment to conversion, Lent teaches us how to live the love of Christ in an ever more radical way,” explained Pope Benedict XVI in this year’s message for Lent.

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