Pope receives ashes in solemn Ash Wednesday ceremony in Rome

(ONLY VIDEO) Pope Francis began the Ash Wednesday penitential service at the Basilica of St. Anselm. 

While singing respectful prayers and the litany of saints with cardinals from the Roman Curia, the entire church emptied to begin to the uphill trek to the Basilica of St. Sabina, a few meters away. 

Pope Francis reverently completed the procession in silence, only participating in the prayers being sung by all. This traditional event symbolizes a penitential mindset while reflecting on the climb Christ made to Golgotha for his crucifixion. 

Upon arrive at the Basilica of St. Sabina, he blessed the altar with incense and began the Mass. 

After the Liturgy of the Word, he blessed the ashes before he was the first to receive them by the titular cardinal of St. Sabina, Jozef Tomko. Pope Francis then distributed ashes to the heads of cardinals, bishops and some participants of the Mass before the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

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