Ash Wednesday and the Start of Lent
Thousands of Catholics and Christians around Rochester marked Ash Wednesday by attending services and receiving ashes on their forehead.
Doug Mandelaro is spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Rochester.
He says the ashes represent many things: it's an ancient symbol of repentance, a sign of our mortality and it's a reminder of the need to become a better person.
Mandelaro adds there are three pillars to Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving, or charity.
He says it's a time for people to re-examine themselves and be better Christians and better people.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent, the forty days leading up to Easter.