Carnival turns to Lent in Rome


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Rome, Italy, Feb 17, 2010 / 03:50 am (CNA).- Following a multitude of carnival celebrations in recent days in Rome, the city now begins the Lenten season. Among the many liturgies to be offered on Ash Wednesday in the Eternal City, the Holy Father will be leaving the Vatican borders to preside over an afternoon celebration.

"Carnevale" events in the Italian capital included parades, theater and equestrian performances, concerts and fireworks. For the first time ever, a Latin American contingent hosted a party in the streets of Rome in which participants danced past the Imperial Forums to the Colosseum.

Costumed children and masked men and women on horseback took part in events over the course of the extended Roman carnival celebrations which started Feb. 6.

With those days past now, Ash Wednesday ushers in the more solemn days of Lent.

Pope Benedict plans to host the general audience at Paul VI Hall in the Vatican as is usual on Wednesdays, then in the evening he will make his way to the Church of St. Anselm on Rome's Aventine Hill to preside over a series of acts.

He will lead a moment of prayer at the Church of St. Anselm, after which a penitential procession will take place in which he and fellow participants will direct themselves to the nearby Basilica of Saint Sabina. There, Benedict XVI will celebrate the Holy Mass with the rite of benediction and imposition of the ashes.

Cardinals, bishops, members of the Roman Curia, the Benedict Brothers of St. Anselm's and Dominican Fathers of St. Sabina will be participating along with the lay faithful.

Meanwhile, at the Basilica of St. Peter's in the Vatican, the archpriest of the basilica, Cardinal Angelo Comastri presided over a Eucharistic Celebration and imposition of the ashes early on Wednesday to mark the start of Lent for workers in the Vatican.

In his 2010 Lenten message, Pope Benedict XVI emphasizes the need for 'divine justice,' giving up our thoughts of self-sufficiency and realizing our dependence on God to celebrate the fulness of charity, gift and salvation.

The Holy Father also expresses his hope that this penitential season will be "for every Christian a time of authentic conversion and intense knowledge of the mystery of Christ, who came to fulfill every justice."