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5 Interesting Facts About Lent

5 Interesting Facts About Lent

1. Origins

Christian-Orthodox worshippers perform the Holy Fire ceremony on April 26, 2003 inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City which Christian faithful believe is built on the site of Jesus'last resting place after his body was removed from the cross. The fire is first taken from inside the tomb and then rapidly spreads throughout the ancient church as faithful light each other's candles. | (Photo: Reuters)

The season of Lent has a complex history, having derived its existence from early church observances of fasting and penance though not truly becoming the specific season until the fourth century.

In a 2013 academic paper, scholar Nicholas V. Russo of the College of Arts & Letters at the University of Notre Dame wrote that Lent was the product of a "gradual historical development."

"While fasting before Easter seems to have been ancient and widespread, the length of that fast varied significantly from place to place and across generations," wrote Russo.

"The first clear and indisputable evidence for the forty-day Lent does not appear until after the Council of Nicea, and when it does, it looks to be unrelated to the earlier short pre-Easter fasts."

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