Catholic devoted sporting masks as a safety measure in opposition to the COVID-19 coronavirus, queue up as a nun (backside C) sprinkles ash on their heads throughout Ash Wednesday at a church compound in Manila on February 26, 2020. Ted ALJIBE / AFP.
Filipinos marked Ash Wednesday with a bow and a sprinkling of mud as an alternative of a cross being daubed on their foreheads, as Asia’s bastion of Catholicism guarded in opposition to the unfold of coronavirus.
Leaders of the Philippine church urged clergymen to adapt the ceremony as a way to cut back the danger of fanning a contagion that has killed over 2,700, largely in China.
Because the outbreak, which has resulted in three confirmed circumstances and one loss of life within the Philippines, church buildings have additionally discouraged worshippers from holding arms throughout mass.
“It makes me feel safe,” mentioned Wendy Tamidles, a 19-year-old pupil.
She was amongst 1000’s of individuals, some sporting surgical masks, who lined up at Baclaran church in Manila for providers on Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, the run-up to Easter, and consists of Catholics having crosses drawn in ash on their foreheads.
The Philippines is overwhelmingly Catholic, with some 80 p.c of its individuals mentioned to be believers. Its distinctive model of the faith additionally consists of ugly annual re-enactments of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Native church officers have additionally “strongly recommended” that Catholics don’t kiss or contact the cross throughout Good Friday providers, which is often widespread observe.
“We are being cautious so that the coronavirus won’t spread,” mentioned Victorino Cueto, rector of Baclaran church.
For at the least one participant, 62-year-old, Roberto Moreno, the no-touch coverage had no impression on the that means of the day.
“The message is the same: we came from ash and to ash we shall return.”