KEARNS, Utah – Millions of people across Utah and the world celebrated Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40-day period of preparation leading up to Easter.
On a Wednesday afternoon before the workday was done, several hundred people crowded into St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Kearns.
They were there to prepare, and to sacrifice.
Ash Wednesday is one of the most solemn days on the church calendar, with the ashes that Catholics and many Protestants get on their foreheads a sign of the beginning and end of life.
“I’m proud of the ashes. I’m proud to wear the ashes,” said Moses Martinez on his way into the service.
In downtown Salt Lake City the scene was the same at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. The pews were filled in the center aisle and the naves.
Many of those in attendance have already begun a sacrifice they plan to continue through the Lenten season.
“I’m gonna try to cut back the use of my iPod and I’m going to give up getting Slurpees from 7-Eleven and getting Chinese food,” said Maggie Condas, a Catholic elementary school student.