Rome, March 1 (IANS/AKI) Pope Francis presided over a ceremony on Rome’s Aventine Hill Wednesday to mark the start of the 40-day Christian fasting period of Lent.
The traditional Ash Wednesday celebration began in the nineteenth-century Basilica of St Anselmo at 4.30 p.m. with a brief prayer.
The celebration was due to end with a mass the ancient Basilica of St. Sabina and a reflection on the spirit of Lent, a time of conversion and penance which leads up to Easter.
Catholic cardinals, bishops, Benedictine monks and Dominican friars attended the ceremony.
“Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death,” Francis tweeted earlier on Wednesday from his nine-language @pontifex account.
Traditionally the pope walks on foot up a steep slope to get from one basilica to another.
The fifth-century Basilica of St. Sabina is the headquarters of the Dominicans, the order founded by Saint Dominic of Guzman in the 13th century.