Pope Francis led the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics into Lent on Ash Wednesday, as they scaled back a centuries-old ritual to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Francis normally marks the start of the penitential season with an outdoor procession between two ancient churches in Rome.
During Lent, which ends with Easter, Christians are called on to fast, practice more good deeds, give alms, be close to the needy and suffering, and give up something, such as sweets.
Last month the Vatican issued guidelines for Ash Wednesday in the Covid-19 era.
They said priests should sprinkle ashes on the head rather than rub them on the forehead, wear masks and recite the traditional “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return” once before everyone rather that to each congregant.