WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40 days of Lent.
Lent is the lead-up to Easter. It recalls Jesus' 40-day fast in the wilderness.
For Catholics, it is a season of penance, reflection and fasting that prepares them for Christ's resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Today at St. Mary Catholic Church in Wilmington and churches around the world, worshippers received a cross of ashes on their forehead.
"Reminds us of our family who have gone, have passed on. It's a time, a solemn time to observe Lent, first day of Lent, and we fast today," Patrick McDonagh said as he left mass at St. Mary.
The ashes are made from palms from last year's Palm Sunday celebration.