Across the Baltimore region, Catholics and other Christians marked the start of Lent by celebrating Ash Wednesday at local churches.

Ash Wednesday is meant to be a solemn reminder of human mortality and the need for reconciliation with God. It marks the beginning of the penitential Lenten season and is commonly observed by the rubbing of ashes on the foreheads of worshippers in the sign of the cross, as well as fasting. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, occurring 6 1/2 weeks before Easter.

President Joe Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, marked Ash Wednesday with a private mass in an improvised chapel next to his hotel room in Warsaw, Poland, the New York Times reported.

“Today, I join Christians worldwide in observing Ash Wednesday,” the president said on Twitter. “The Lenten season is a time for reflection and discernment and an opportunity to recommit ourselves to God and to one another. May we continue to keep the faith and look with hopeful hearts towards Easter.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Here are some scenes from a service at St. Francis Xavier Church in Baltimore.

Catholic faithfuls participate receive the cross on their foreheads in ash from Fr. Xavier Edet, SSJ, in the celebration of Ash Wednesday at St. Francis Xavier Church, in Baltimore, Wednesday, February 22, 2023.
Father Xavier Edet, SSJ, rubs ashes in the sign of the cross on the foreheads of worshippers on Ash Wednesday at St. Francis Xavier Church in Baltimore, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)
Dorothy Nole of Baltimore receives a sign of the cross in ashes on her forehead at St. Francis Xavier Church in Baltimore on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)
Joseph Cuffie of Baltimore holds his hands in prayer after receiving a sign of the cross in ashes on his forehead at St. Francis Xavier Church in Baltimore, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)
Those attending Mass at St. Francis Xavier Church gather in the front of the church to get the sign of the cross in ashes on their foreheads during Ash Wednesday Mass in Baltimore on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)
Rosalind Johnson, of Baltimore, receives a sign of the cross in ashes on her forehead at St. Francis Xavier Church, in Baltimore, Wednesday, February 22, 2023.
Rosalind Johnson of Baltimore receives a sign of the cross in ashes on her forehead at St. Francis Xavier Church in Baltimore on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)
Ryan Massey participates in the celebration of Ash Wednesday at St. Francis Xavier Church, in Baltimore, Wednesday, February 22, 2023.
Ryan Massey participates in the celebration of Ash Wednesday at St. Francis Xavier Church in Baltimore on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)
Catholics participate in the celebration of Ash Wednesday at St. Francis Xavier Church in Baltimore on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)
Diane Lewis prays at St. Francis Xavier Church during Ash Wednesday Mass in Baltimore on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

More From The Banner