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Slideshow: Catholics mark start of Lent with Ash Wednesday

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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.

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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.

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