Philippines marks Ash Wednesday under new Covid-19 guidelines

Ash Wednesday was celebrated in the Philippines under new guidelines issued by the Catholic Church to protect worshipers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The guidelines issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines included limits on church attendance, and masses could be viewed via livestreams or on television.

Priests were also conducting blessings and sprinkling of holy water and ashes without speaking, and ash was sprinkled on top of the head or wiped onto the forehead with cotton balls. It could also be taken home in sachets for those unable to attend church.

The dictum “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” was said once only, to all parishioners, while masks, face shields and physical distancing were mandatory.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40-day Lent period leading up to Easter, during which Catholics pray, fast and give alms.

A visual story by epa’s Rolex Dela Pena and Mark Cristino

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