How Did Ash Wednesday Originate and Why Do Catholics Mark Their Foreheads With a Cross Made of Ashes?

At the beginning of Lent, which always falls on a Wednesday, Catholics mark their foreheads with a cross made of ashes to symbolize their commitment to Christ.

The ashes are from burned palm fronds used in the previous year’s celebration of Palm Sunday.

In ancient times, when someone died, it was a mourning custom to sit inside and cover one’s head and body with dust and ashes.

It was a mortal reminder that we are all “from ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”