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Ash Wednesday will arrive with COVID-19 precautions

Priests won't actually place the ashes on people's foreheads. Instead they will follow a European custom of sprinkling the ashes on the crown of a person's head.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Ash Wednesday will look quite a bit different this year for Western New York during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ash Wednesday is this week, and COVID-19 precautions mean priests won't actually place the ashes on people's foreheads.

Instead they will follow a European custom of sprinkling the ashes on the crown of a person's head.

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo put out a video to explain to parishioners how it will work.

Monsignor David LiPuma, who leads the clergy at Our Lady of Victory Shrine and Basilica in Lackawanna, explained in the video:

"Those ashes will be sprinkled on the crown of your head," he said. "What's most important, even though it's not a visible symbol like it normally is in our past history and our practice, that we went around all day with that ashes marked on our head, but a reminder to all of us that God asked us, Jesus proclaimed in the gospel, do it in secret. Don't do it for show."

Another important reminder: due to the COVID pandemic, the dispensation is still in effect, removing the obligation of the faithful to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days.