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Ash Wednesday observers pack St. Matthew's Cathedral in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- On Wednesday, Christians around the world observed Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

ABC 57 News attended an afternoon Mass at Saint Matthew's Cathedral in South Bend. Many people received ashes on their foreheads.

That sets the tone for the 40-day period of fasting and prayer before Easter.

One priest at Saint Matthew's told us that Wednesday’s crowds were the largest he has ever seen!

"I think people are taking their faith seriously. When economic times are tough, people turn to God and so, it's an opportunity for us all to deepen our faith,” said Michael Heintz of Saint Matthew's Cathedral.

Many people observe Lent by giving something up, such as favorite foods or alcohol.

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