Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, observed in the Western Church since the seventh century. The name comes from the custom of strewing consecrated ashes, derived from the palms of the previous Palm Sunday (q.v.), introduced probably by Gregory the Great (600 A.D.), sanctioned by Pope Celestin III. in 1191, and still maintained by the Roman Church. In the Anglican services the day is usually marked by the Commination Service (q.v.). The German Protestants and the Eastern Church do not specially observe the day.