Pope marks Ash Wednesday with ceremony on Rome’s Aventine Hill

Rome, March 1 (IANS/AKI) Pope Francis presided over a ceremony on Rome’s Aventine Hill Wednesday to mark the start of the 40-day Christian fasting period of Lent.

The traditional Ash Wednesday celebration began in the nineteenth-century Basilica of St Anselmo at 4.30 p.m. with a brief prayer.

The celebration was due to end with a mass the ancient Basilica of St. Sabina and a reflection on the spirit of Lent, a time of conversion and penance which leads up to Easter.

Catholic cardinals, bishops, Benedictine monks and Dominican friars attended the ceremony.

“Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death,” Francis tweeted earlier on Wednesday from his nine-language @pontifex account.

Traditionally the pope walks on foot up a steep slope to get from one basilica to another.

The fifth-century Basilica of St. Sabina is the headquarters of the Dominicans, the order founded by Saint Dominic of Guzman in the 13th century.

–IANS/AKI

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