Day I - Ash Wednesday
From as early as the third century, the Church of Rome observed the season of Lent by journey each day to a "Station Church" or one of the ancient and prominent churches of Rome. Here the Bishop of Rome, the Holy Father, would lead the people in prayer. It is a symbol of unity as well as a pilgrimage of faith. Unfortunately, the custom ceased during the Avignon papacy in 1305 but interest was revived by Saint Leo XIII at the turn of the 20th century. Blessed John XXIII fully was restored the custom in 1959.
“Remember, O man, you are
dust and unto dust you shall return” (Prayer for the Deposition of Ashes).
Today, from the earliest times, the Mass is celebrated in the
Church of Santa Sabina, "The gem of the Aventine", and home of the Dominicans.
Santa Sabina was one of a group of martyrs who shed her blood for our faith
during the Vesparian persecutions (69-79). At 5:00 in the evening on Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father will come here to participate at an Ecumenical penance service where he will receive ashes.