Lent in the Christian tradition is the forty day period leading up to Easter Sunday when the Resurrection of Jesus is celebrated. During Lent it is customary for Christians to sacrifice something so they too may join Jesus in his suffering. Many Christians abstain from meat or alcohol or cigarettes or sweets or some such pleasure and offer this self-denial up to God as penance for their sins and as a sign that they are reflecting on the sacrifice it is thought Jesus Christ made for all mankind. Ash Wednesday in particular was marked by all believers sporting a large ash thumbprint on their foreheads in memory of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. It is a highly significant penitential Christian rite, hugely observed in Ireland’s largely Roman Catholic population even at supposedly non-secular government levels until very recent years. The former Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland, Bertie Ahern, was ribbed unmercifully in the media and by a large percentage of the populace for the particularly large dark thumbprint he would sport on that day every year of his many years in office. Mr Ahern is pictured above in 2005 with Pope Benedict, the current Pope or Head of the Roman Catholic Church.