At the Vatican, Pope Francis led the world's Roman Catholics in the observance of the holy day.
On Ash Wednesday, clergy rub a dab of ashes in the shape of a cross on peoples' foreheads, symbolizing mortality.
People at churches across the valley turned out to get their ashes.
Like here at St. Joseph's in Phoenix, but not everyone was able to make it to mass. The Episcopalian Church is doing things a bit differently, with ashes to go.
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the morning commute, across the street from the light rail on 19th Ave. and Montebello in Phoenix, quiet prayers were shared.
"I got the train this morning, and I saw the white, but I couldn't tell what was going on, this was a big surprise, really nice," said a commuter.
Vicar Craig Bustrin from St. Mary's Episcopalian Church spent several hours marking foreheads with ashes.
"In an ideal world every Christian has an opportunity to attend Ash Wednesday services with their local Christian Community, with their local church," said Vicar Craig Bustrin.
Bustrin said what St. Mary's is doing is part of a nationwide movement among the Episcopal Dioceses, a relatively new approach to a centuries old Christian tradition of ashes to go.
On this Ash Wednesday clergy and lay people are visiting coffee shops, college campuses, and in this case transit stops to mark the foreheads of those interested and pray with them during the start of this holy season.
"In this world we need it right now," said another commuter.
This is the third year the Episcopalian Churches in the valley have offered ashes to go, and it seems that the ministry has become increasingly popular.
"When we arrived this morning at 7:30 there were people waiting, they were expecting us," said Bustrin.
Several Episcopalian Churches in the valley participated and plans are already in the works to do the same thing next year.