Salvadoran Catholics begin Lent with pandemic-spurred changes

San Salvador, Mar 2 (EFE).- The Catholic faithful in El Salvador on Wednesday began Lent with an ashes ritual that has been modified due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Before the change, the common practice was for the priest to mark a cross with ashes on the foreheads of the faithful but due to health restrictions imposed because of the pandemic the rite has been modified since last year and now Catholics sprinkle ashes on their own heads instead.

The ash is made from palm fronds saved since Palm Sunday last year for use on Ash Wednesday.

The main churches in San Salvador were crowded for religious services starting early Wednesday morning to mark the beginning of the 40-day period during which Catholics prepare and reflect on their faith and their lives prior to Holy Week.

The faithful attending church services abided by the health measures established by the Catholic Church, including remaining two meters apart from one another and wearing facemasks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, as EFE observed.

El Salvador has reported 156,364 officially confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began in early 2021, of which 19,880 cases are still active and 4,074 people have died.

Lent begins on Wednesday in El Salvador, a country where religious processions and other events are being held around the country, and the ceremonies and rites will last until after Holy Week.

During Holy Week – which begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday, April 17 – the faithful will reflect on the Passion of Christ, his death and resurrection.

Approximately 70 percent of the public professes the Catholic faith in the Central American country.

EFE sa/lll/bp

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