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Rome Reports

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Vatican adapts Ash Wednesday rite to pandemic measures

Every year the pope goes to the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome for the Ash Wednesday Mass. 

It is still not confirmed if this year Pope Francis will celebrate Mass there. What is certain is he will celebrate the rite differently. 

The Vatican has published a note with instructions for the rite of ashes during the pandemic. This year the ritual will be held on Feb. 17. 

There are two significant changes.

The first is that the priest will address all attendees once when saying, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” or a similar phrase. Traditionally the priest repeats this phrase to each person.

The second change is that the priest will not put the ashes on the forehead but will let them fall on each person's head, without saying anything.

The note also recalls other necessary measures, such as the use of masks and hand sanitizing before approaching people.

Javier Martínez-Brocal

Translation: Christian Campos