Millions of Christians around the world will be seen with ashes in the form of a cross on their foreheads Wednesday as they celebrate the first day of Lent. Ash Wednesday, as it is called, is 46 days before Easter.
Watch Slideshow Christians Mark Lenten Season
The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the tradition and events of the New Testament.