Winchester Cathedral is celebrating both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day this year when they coincide on the 14 February.
To mark this special day, Winchester Cathedral is offering free entry for all visitors and a chance to learn more about the meaning of Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
Ash Wednesday offers Christians a chance to remember their humanity, ask for forgiveness and grow into new life and new love. To highlight the parallels between Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, a diverse programme of events and activities has been organised, both inside and outside the Cathedral, inspired by the theme ‘Love is all you need’.
In the Cathedral Close, visitors will have the opportunity to receive ashes on their forehead informally with ‘Ashes to Go’, the traditional Christian observance of Ash Wednesday. Inside the Cathedral, there will be silent prayer and reflection in St Alphege’s Chapel, prayer and confession in the Epiphany Chapel, and prayer stations.
Visitors are also be invited to join the Cathedral’s services throughout the day, starting with Morning Prayer at 7.40am and finishing with Solemn Eucharist for Ash Wednesday and Imposition of the Ashes at 5.30pm.
To mark Ash Wednesday, the Cathedral’s ministry team will also return to their monastic roots, combining prayer and scripture with manual work. The ‘monastic day’ will give visitors the opportunity to engage with the cathedral’s ministry team and ask questions about the importance of Ash Wednesday. Visitors might even be served by the ministry team in the Cathedral Shop or the Refectory!
The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester, says: “On Ash Wednesday we remember that we are simply human, we all make mistakes and we can ask for forgiveness. We can let go of resentment and fear and grow into new life and new love. Faithfully following ancient practice while engaging with contemporary culture is an important part of our calling as a Cathedral, in order that we can be a place and people of transformation, that God might create in us new hearts of love.”
Premier’s Regional Correspondent Ian Britton has been finding out more from The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester.