Iraq: Full of Historic Sites Important to Understanding Christianity

Pope Francis hopes to embark on the first-ever papal visit to the biblical land of Iraq in early March in a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts to the place known in Arabic as the “land of the two rivers” — the mighty Tigris and Euphrates — and once renowned as Mesopotamia, the “cradle of civilization.”

A Brief History: The Practice of Sprinkling Ashes

Though American Catholics are used to receiving their ashes from thumb to forehead on Ash Wednesday, this year, ashes will be sprinkled on their heads. The gesture and practice of sprinkling ashes, however, has a longstanding history within Jewish and Catholic traditions.