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Pope to stay at Vatican on Ash Wednesday

Pope John Paul II will preside at the celebration of the Word and the blessing and imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday in St Peter's Basilica.

The Pope will preside at the 10:30 am local time ceremony, according to a note released today by the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

The celebration will include the rite of introduction, the Liturgy of the Word and the Pope's homily, the blessing and imposition of ashes, the Prayer of the Faithful and the Lord's Prayer, and the concluding rite.

In previous years, the Pope presided at this celebration in the Basilica of St Sabina, on the Aventine Hill in Rome. This year he will do so in the Vatican, a decision designed to spare him additional fatigue.

The custom of beginning Lent in Rome in the paleo-Christian Basilica of St Sabina, introduced by St. Gregory the Great in the sixth century, was re-established by John XXIII in 1960. Clement XIII had last celebrated it in 1769.

Pope to Stay at Vatican on Ash Wednesday (Zenit 17/2/04)

Pope cancels traditional Ash Wednesday service (Chicago Sun-Times 11/1/04)
Pope's plea to halt 'absurd violence' (The Mercury 23/2/04)
John Paul II Warns of Misuse of Biomedical Sciences (Zenit 20/2/04)
Pope Mourns Victims of Iran's Railway Tragedy (Zenit 19/2/04)
Pope says biotechnology practices do not always respect human life (Catholic News Service 20/04)

23 Feb 2004