BROOKLYN - Christians observed Ash Wednesday, marking the start of Lent. 

Crowds filled Catholic churches around the borough for Masses.

All Ash Wednesday services concluded with the distribution of ashes, which are worn on the forehead in the shape of a cross. The cross symbolizes sinfulness and a need for penance, while the ashes represent mortality. 

The season of Lent lasts for 40 days with a focus on sacrifice.