No crosses on foreheads; Ash Wednesday to look different for San Antonio Catholics this year

Priests will sprinkle ashes on each person’s head instead of tracing a sign of the cross on the forehead

File Photo (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (Jeff Chiu, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SAN ANTONIO – The distribution of ashes will be different this Ash Wednesday in San Antonio Archdiocese churches due to COVID-19.

Instead of the customary practice of tracing a sign of the cross on the person’s forehead with ashes, priests or ministers wearing masks will sprinkle ashes on each person’s head in silence, the archdiocese said in a news release.

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller is directing all parishes in the archdiocese to follow the new guidelines this year, as per Pope Francis.

Sprinkling ashes on the top of people’s heads, rather than marking foreheads with ashes, is the customary practice at the Vatican and in Italy.

Due to the pandemic, parishioners are asked to check with their churches for a schedule of services, as it may be different from previous years.

Ash Wednesday will be marked on Feb. 17 and is the start of the Lenten season that leads to Easter Sunday.

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David Ibañez has been managing editor of since the website's launch in October 2000.