Must ashes on the forehead be in the sign of the cross?


Today I attended the Ash Wednesday Mass. When I received the ashes, the priest only make a straight line across my forehead and not the sign of the cross. Is this acceptable? I’ve never seen this done in this manner before.


In the United States, ashes are ordinarily placed on the forehead in the sign of the cross; but, to my knowledge, that is a custom. Indeed, in some places in the world, it is not common to place the ashes on the forehead at all. Today I was interested to learn that in Europe ashes are distributed by sprinkling them on the person’s head. On the Vatican’s web site, you can see a picture of Benedict XVI receiving ashes in this manner.

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