The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Vatican Sacraments has published a note with instructions for the rite of ashes, which this year will be celebrated on February 17, to adapt it to the sanitary restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic and prevent the spread of infections.
Normally, the imposition of the ashes was carried out in the church, with the faithful lining up for the priest before putting the ash mark on his forehead, to say some of these two phrases: “Repent and believe in the gospel” or “To dust you are and to dust you will become” and thus complete the rite.
However, this year, instead of repeating it personally to each person, the priest will say it only once and addressing everyone. Thus, in accordance with the measures agreed by the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the priest must use gel to sanitize his hands and with the mask perfectly placed, adequately covering the mouth and nose. , will perform the rite of ashes respecting the safety distance. In this way, the priest will take the ash and drop it on the head, without imposing it on the forehead and without saying a word.
The Pope usually goes to the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome for Mass on Ash Wednesday. The Vatican has not yet confirmed whether the pandemic will prevent this event, but in any case, it will celebrate Ash Wednesday in a different way.