September 28, 2023

Ash Wednesday in Cayman Islands

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It is 70 years since Ash Wednesday has fallen on Valentine’s Day – February 14th.

Origin and History of Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the onset of the Lent, the 40-day period of fasting and abstinence. It is also known as the ‘Day of Ashes’. So called because on that day at church the faithful have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross.

The name ‘Day of Ashes’ comes from “Dies Cinerum” in the Roman Missal and is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary. The concept originated by the Roman Catholics somewhere in the 6th century. Though the exact origin of the day is not clear, the custom of marking the head with ashes on this Day is said to have originated during the papacy of Gregory the Great (590-604).

In the Old Testament ashes were found to have used for two purposes: as a sign of humility and mortality; and as a sign of sorrow and repentance for sin. The Christian connotation for ashes in the liturgy of Ash Wednesday has also been taken from this Old Testament biblical custom.

Receiving ashes on the head as a reminder of mortality and a sign of sorrow for sin was a practice of the Anglo- Saxon church in the 10th century. It was made universal throughout the Western church at the Synod of Benevento in 1091.

Originally the use of ashes to betoken penance was a matter of private devotion. Later it became part of the official rite for reconciling public penitents. In this context, ashes on the penitent served as a motive for fellow Christians to pray for the returning sinner and to feel sympathy for him. Still later, the use of ashes passed into its present rite of beginning the penitential season of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

Reference: Origin and History of Ash Wednesday

Two Ash Wednesday services on Grand Cayman in George Town we have been notified of are:


St. Alban’s Church of England at 9.30 a.m. on Ash Wednesday, February 14 following MATTINS at 9 a.m. in the church at 461 Shedden Road, George Town (opposite Bodden Place).


Ash Wednesday Imposition of Ashes & Holy Communion

St. George’s Anglican (Episcopal) Church, Courts Rd, off Eastern Ave., George Town, at 8:00am


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