Ash Wednesday marks start of Lent

Wednesday is the beginning of the somber Lenten season in the Christian liturgical calendar. It is marked, literally, with ashes on the faithful's foreheads.

Priests will be distributing the burned palm leaves mixed with holy water during Mass by making the sign of the cross on each person's forehead.

At St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, priests will be distributing ashes on an on-going basis from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The placing of the ashes is accompanied by the priest saying something along the lines of "from dust, and to dust, you shall return."

The season of Lent lasts for 40 days. Christians around the world fast and pray ahead of the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.