Before they and thousands of fellow Christians across the suburbs partake in Ash Wednesday services, students from St. Alphonsus Liguori School in Prospect Heights joined their church's pastor Tuesday to make the ashes used in the yearly ritual.
Using a re-purposed charcoal grill, the Rev. Curtis Lambert tossed palm leaves blessed on Palm Sunday last year into a fire as students gathered around him.
The ashes -symbolizing penance, mourning and mortality -- will be blessed and then applied to the foreheads of believers during services Wednesday as an outward expression of their faith. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent for Christians, a solemn 40-day period leading up to Easter.
Similar palm burning events took place at schools across the suburbs Monday and Tuesday, including St. Thomas of Villanova School and St. Theresa School in Palatine, St. Gilbert School in Grayslake and St. Bede School in Ingleside.