(KSL News) -- Pope John Paul II opened the solemn season of Lent with an Ash Wednesday Mass at the Vatican today.
He personally placed ashes on the foreheads of cardinals, bishops and the faithful. This service is traditionally celebrated at another Roman basilica, but this year the Pope observed it at St. Peter's to spare his strength for future trips.
Here in Utah, many gathered for noon mass at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. Bishop George Niederauer conducted the service and also the symbolic smudging of ashes.
Lent is traditionally considered a time of penitence, sacrifice, charity and reflection for Catholics, the beginning of the Easter season.